Brazen Benefit Cheat Used Swindled Cash to Achieve "Buxom Bosom"

Kellaway blew £57,000 on plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry

Hammersmith and Fulham Police

Hammersmith and Fulham Council

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A woman who used benefits swindled from Hammersmith and Fulham Council to have her breasts enlarged has pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering.

Nelli Kellaway, 41, is now due to be sentenced on Friday, January 15.

Mrs Kellaway swindled £57,000 of housing and council tax benefit from Hammersmith & Fulham Council. Evidence seized by council officers suggests that she blew the money on breast enlargements in Russia for herself and her daughter, Natalia, 24. She also spent the cash on plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry.

Nelli’s husband Steven, 51, also went to Russia but died during the trip. Mrs Kellaway’s arrest came on the day that she flew back to the UK from Russia with Steven’s cremated remains.

The benefit fraud came to light after Steven Kellaway submitted a claim for housing and council tax benefit in March 2008. On his application form, he declared that he was a single parent, in receipt of Income Support and failed to declare that he was in actual fact living with his wife

He also failed to state that Nelli had more than £80,000 worth of cash in a series of undeclared bank accounts, owned property in Camden and had a rental income in excess of £2,000 per month.

He also decided not the tell the council that as of June 2008, he had £119,000 in a Nationwide Flex Account. Council Fraud Officers and the Met Police Pay Back Unit at Hammersmith are now seeking to seize these assets as the proceeds of crime.

Just seven months later, the council received a further claim for housing and council tax from the same address from a female witness, who declared Steven Kellaway as her landlord.

The property was visited and a further two witnesses provided statements that Steven and Nelli Kellaway were their landlords, had acted together as husband and wife and had rented the rooms within the property to them for cash deposits of £600 and a two weekly rental of £240, which was to be paid cash into a NatWest Bank account in Nelli Kellaway's name.

The address was subsequently searched by officers from the council and The Met's Police Pay Back Unit and a significant amount of mail was recovered and personal papers which identified a series of undeclared bank accounts.

The search also uncovered Nelli Kellaway’s diary which stated that she and her daughter had travelled to Russia for the surgery.

While in custody, a search of Nelli Kellaway’s computer also revealed forged documents, including tenancy agreements, and other papers which went to assist with a further false claim for Housing Benefit at an address in Richmond.

The documents also identified an income stream from other rented properties across London. One of the spreadsheets, identified an income of £98,000 per annum through false claims to the benefit system.

Background checks on both Steven and Nelli Kellaway identified that Steven Kellaway had been convicted of Benefit Fraud in November 2007, for failing to disclose the ownership of five properties. Further checks, identified that Steven and Nelli Kellaway were married in 2006.

Speaking about the case, Cllr Greg Smith, Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Cabinet Member for Crime and Street Scene, said: " I have seen some brazen benefits cheats in my time but Mrs Kellaway is out there. Benefits are for the needy – not those in need of a buxom bosom. Kellaway swindled taxpayer’s cash to spend on her own vanity and this council will pursue cheats like her all the way to the courts."

Cllr Smith added: " Benefit fraud will simply not be tolerated in Hammersmith & Fulham. Our corporate anti fraud service work round the clock to catch benefit cheats and the message to anyone who is considering acting in such an unscrupulous fashion is that you will be caught and you will pay the penalty.

" This successful result shows exactly what can be achieved by working closely with a multi agency approach."

The is the first case where H&F Council has used a recently produced Memorandum of Understanding with the local Police to the split of seized proceeds of crime between the two organisations. When arrested and asked what her employment was Mrs Kellaway replied: "I don’t work. I have never worked" - thus casting doubt as to the funds in her undeclared bank account. 

Without the assistance of the Met Police Payback Unit, it would not have been an almost impossible task to identify and restrain the criminal assets. Mrs Kellaway will be required to pay back the defrauded £57,000 and all other assets which are deemed to be the proceeds of crime.

Given that by her own admissions, Mrs Kellaway has never worked, it is likely that the council will be seeking to recover in excess of £200,000 by way of criminal benefit.

Nelli Kellaway has pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and two counts of money laundering and will be sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Friday January 15.

January 12, 2010