Romanian fraudsters use trafficked babies and children for multi-million pound UK benefit scam

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Babies and young children are being trafficked into Britain by foreign criminals and used to make fraudulent benefits claims, an investigation has found.

Forged immigration documents and employment records are used in the multi-million pound scam.

In many cases the children are taken from families with the knowledge of their parents, the probe found.

Trafficked: Gypsy children in the Romanian town of Tandarei, which has been linked to fraudulent benefit claims in the UK

They are trained in street crime and placed with unrelated adults to enable fake benefit claims to be paid into accounts controlled by the trafficker, according to the Sunday Times

A special team set up to investigate the problem in London has identified 119 potential child trafficking victims in the capital with more than 1,500 convictions between them.

Operation Golf is a Metropolitan Police investigation into a Romanian crime network believed to control a human trafficking ring.

Some of the suspects can be traced to a town in Tandarei which has a large Roma gypsy population.

Over the past five years, the town has prospered with an emerging class of 'nouveau riche' gypsies.

A Daily Mail investigation last year found Tanderei transformed from a village where horses and carts were the only form of transportation to a place of expensive cars and glitzy mansions.

Earlier this month four suspected child victims of trafficking from Romania were taken into foster care as part of a Met swoop.

More than 20 addresses in Westminster, Enfield, Haringey and Redbridge were visited and evidence of benefit crime in excess of £100,000 was found, the force said.

Fraudulent claims for housing benefit, tax credits and child benefit supplement revenue from other criminal activities such as ATM fraud, pickpocketing and shoplifting.

Anthony Steen MP, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on trafficking of women and children, told the Sunday Times: 'This is an appalling scandal of desperately poor people being trafficked here to siphon off money from the benefits system. The current checks are totally inadequate and there needs to be an EU-wide response.

'HM Revenue & Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions need to get a grip.'

A spokesman for the HMRC said any type of fraud was taken 'extremely seriously' and there were a range of checks in place throughout the period of the claim including checking authenticity of documents.

'All tax credit claims are subject to the same risk assessment regardless of the nationality of the claimant or claimants and if fraud is suspected payment is stopped,' he said.

'In the most serious cases prosecutions for the criminal offence of tax credit fraud will be considered. continues here

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