|Millionaire's Daughter Jailed for Fraud - for the Third Time|
Former socialite's plot was "dripping with dishonesty"
A millionaire's daughter and former socialite with an extraordinary past has pleaded guilty to swindling thousands of pounds from Hammersmith and Fulham Council - and been jailed for the third time.
Farah Damji, 43 claimed £17,500 in housing and council tax benefit in a fraud plot which the judge described as "dripping with dishonesty at every conceivable corner."
Ugandan born Damji, who is a mother of two and the daughter of property tycoon Amir Damji, was sent to jail for 15 months. She has previously served sentences in Rikers Island jail in New York and Downfield Prison in Surrey - from where she absconded and went on the run.
Blackfriars Crown Court heard that Damji claimed housing benefit for an address at Loftus Road, Shepherds Bush, saying she was a single parent with no income. A Met police investigation found that the tenancy agreement used to support her claim had been obtained by deception, and and approached the council’s corporate anti fraud team.
A joint investigation found Damji had told the letting agents that she was married and a successful business woman with a substantial income. In fact she was not married and the person she claimed to be her husband had left the UK. The tenancy agreement had been issued in joint names and Damji had used the surname of her alleged husband as her own.
Rent was paid in a variety of ways, with some cheques bouncing, and she was finally evicted on October 3 last year, leaving the landlord nearly £8,000 out of pocket and with a damaged flat.
She then submitted a new claim for a property on Kilmane Road in Hammersmith. Investigations again showed that the tenancy agreement was a forgery and the rent for the property had been increased by approximately £500 per month in an attempt to obtain additional housing benefit. Damji was arrested on October 27, before the landlord suffered any loss.
On both flats, the deposit was paid by her wealthy father.
It was also established that her children were not living with her, but were living with their grandparents in South Africa, and that she was the owner of a business which had not been declared on the housing benefit application forms.
Sentencing her, Judge Aidan Marron QC, said: “The level of dishonesty at every conceivable juncture is so persistent it's the type of case I have never come across before."
Confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act are scheduled for June 14.
From 1992 to 95, Damji ran art galleries in New York and East Hampton. This came to an end when she was sentenced to six months in Rikers Island jail on five counts of Grand Larceny.
Returning to Britain, she published a lifestyle magazine Another Generation and wrote for several newspapers. She also became notorious for claiming to have had affairs with a newspaper executive and writer William Dalrymple, and was once dubbed "London's most dangerous woman" by the Evening Standard.
In October 2005 was jailed for three and a half years after pleading guilty to thefts totalling £50,000 and two counts of perverting the course of justice. In July 2006, she was released from Downview Prison to attend a meeting with her Open University tutor, but did not return.
She was re-arrested five days later, after police were tipped off that she was writing a blog about her days on the run.
Last year, she published an autobiography, Try Me, in which she claimed to have left her criminal days behind - just weeks before being arrested once again.
On her MySpace page, Damji says: " I've done a lot: Art Dealer, designer, writer, journalist, magazine editor. I went to prison because I committed crimes."
February 4, 2010