A couple who fraudulently claimed more than £700,000 in benefits have been sentenced to four years in prison. Wojciech Kowalski and Wiktoria Packowska created false bank accounts, identity documents and utility bills in order to make over 80 false claims across a three-year period.

Wojciech Kowalski (left) and Wiktoria Packowska

Their offending came to light on Sunday 14 June 2020 when they attempted to leave the UK via the Channel Tunnel with £50,000 cash hidden inside Packowska’s leggings and a further £12,000 inside her handbag. Both were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and a search of their home in Ilford, east London, was carried out.

Inside officers removed a kitchen kickboard and found a carrier bag containing a vast quantity of mobile phones, bank cards and documents linking them to fraudulent activity.

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The couple were caught with vast quantities of cash and bank cards.

Kowalski and Packowska, both 28, were released on bail pending further enquiries but continued to claim for benefits they were not entitled to and were arrested again in August 2021 when they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, possessing articles for use in fraud and possessing criminal property and were sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday 24 June 2024.

The investigation into their criminal activity was carried out by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate with assistance from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Detective Constable Stuart Tracey said:

‘Wojciech Kowalski and Wiktoria Packowska abused the benefits system and cheated their way towards vast sums of money intended for people who needed it more than they did.

‘They created multiple false identities to commit their crimes and even lied about where they lived when they were first arrested at the Channel Tunnel. However they could not escape the truth for long and are both now behind bars as a result.’

By Ed

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