Vile fraudster claimed compensation for Grenfell Tower and Manchester bombings

A woman who made dozens of fraudulent insurance claims totalling nearly £180,000 reckons she was caught up in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Ruksana Ashraf admitted three counts of fraud relating to false insurance claims made to RSA, Aviva, and Legal and General between 2012 and 2017.

Other claims she made include the Manchester bombing and Borough Market terrorist attack.

The court heard the 44-year-old from Edinburgh had used multiple mobile phone SIM cards and fake names and addresses to take out dozens of insurance policies and then make bogus claims.

Ashraf also admitted one count of possessing criminal property in relation to receiving vouchers from insurers instead of compensation.

Ben Holt, prosecuting, said the successful claims totalled £50,116, but Ashraf had also tried to scam a further £129,030, claims which were not successful.

He told Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday that Ashraf made claims relating to Grenfell Tower and two major terrorist attacks.

Mr Holt added: "Some of those claims related to terrorist attacks or natural disasters that had recently happened.

"Three claims were said to arise from the Grenfell Tower, two from the bombing on the Arena in Manchester and one from the terrorist attack on Borough Market in London.

"I do accept that the idea behind the fraud is slightly different in so far as the defendant was not making false representation to the council that they were a resident and liable for payment.

"But it does need to be borne in mind that this defendant was claiming to be present at natural disasters when clearly she wasn’t."

Daniel King, defending, appealed for a suspended sentence and said his client had not used the cash to live an "exotic" lifestyle.

The court heard Ashraf, of Saughton Mains Terrace, Edinburgh, had turned to drink and gambling following two abusive relationships and was carer to her elderly mother.

Mr King added: "She also accepts that those claims relating to the tragedies of Grenfell Tower, at Borough Market and then the Manchester Arena demonstrate a callous and heartless underlying feature of this fraudulent activity."

But Judge Wood QC said he could not impose a suspended jail sentence because of the length of offending and sophistication of the scam.

He added: "Sometimes in these class of cases one is told that the defendant was in desperate need of money and in her plight succumbed to temptation.

"Here the mitigation is substantially to the effect she is in a position her mother needs her care and depends on her and she herself is not in the best of health."

Jailing her for three years, the judge said it was disgraceful to have used terrorist attacks and disasters to make false claims.

He added: "The defendant has quite disgracefully made reference to the tragedy at Grenfell and terrorist attacks causing loss of life at Borough and Manchester and that has caused distress to others."

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