City built in Eastern Europe by benefits scams stealing £50m from UK government – World News | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european

Sliven, a seemingly ordinary Bulgarian city nestled at the foot of the Balkan Mountains, has seen a boom in wealth from scamming UK tax payers out of millions through a benefits fraud scheme

Sunset over Sliven city, which has seen a boom in wealth (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A new prosperous town sprung up in Eastern Europe funded by an elaborate benefits fraud scheme stealing £50m from the UK government.

Some of those reaping thousands from the con hadn’t even ever stepped foot in the UK. Sliven, a seemingly ordinary Eastern European city nestled at the foot of the Balkan Mountains, is Bulgaria’s eighth largest city and the administrative and industrial hub of Sliven Province.

Known for its location in a region famous for wine production, it has recently gained notoriety for a different reason – a criminal gang linked to an alleged £50 million annual theft from the UK government through fraudulent benefit claims.

The culprits, Galina Nikolova, 38, her boyfriend Stoyan Stoyanov, 27, Tsvetka Todorova, 52, Gyunesh Ali, 33, and Patritsia Paneva, 26, were apprehended in London on May 5, 2021. They have all pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering offences committed between October 2016 and May 2021, with sentencing due shortly.

Two of the ring leaders Galina Nikolova, 38, and Stoyan Stoyanov(Instagram)

Their audacious scam was unearthed by a detective from Sliven, Vassil Panayotov, who grew suspicious upon seeing locals flaunting designer clothes and a surge in new property construction sites. His investigations revealed that thousands of residents were receiving up to £2,500 a month in benefits from the UK, despite many never having set foot in the country.

The inspector alerted the UK authorities, leading to the identification of the five Bulgarian masterminds behind the massive fraud.

It’s thought that the crooks could have pocketed over an eye-watering £54 million from their sly swindle, reports the Express.

The Eastern European gang hijacked 6,000 identities to make claims for Universal Credit(Instagram)
The gang reaped the benefits of the scam (CPS)

Inspector Panayotov expressed his doubts to The Telegraph, stating: “I first became suspicious when I started to see the influx of money into Sliven. I wondered how these people had got such money.”

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