Arm-wrestling benefits fraudster jailed for £51k in fake claims

Benefits fraudster and his mother are jailed for claiming £51,000 after he was caught ARM-WRESTLING on camera despite saying he was so disabled he had to eat through a straw

  • Sakib Zarif, 33, and Khalida Zarif, 51, were jailed for swindling £51k in fake claims
  • A police investigation exposed their grossly exaggerated ‘disability’ claims
  • Mr Zarif, from Lancashire, was caught arm-wrestling on video despite saying he was in so much physical pain that he was unable to use cutlery to eat

An arm-wrestling benefits fraudster who claimed he was so disabled he had to eat blended food through a straw, has been jailed alongside his mother for swindling £51,000 in fake claims.

Mother and son, Khalida Zarif, 51, and Sakib Zarif, 33, from Lancashire were jailed last week after they were caught grossly exaggerating disabilities to claim benefits. 

Mr Zarif was given 15 months for conspiracy to defraud while Mrs Zarif was jailed for 12 months, following a police investigation that exposed their ‘disability’ claims.  

The family, who live together at a large house on Preston New Road, Blackburn, own a portfolio of properties in the area. 

They each drove expensive, high performance cars such as BMWs or Mercedes Benzes.

They were accused of ‘making a mockery’ of the benefits system and of those who deserve disability payments for ‘genuine reasons’. 

In February 2019, concerns were raised about the potential exploitation of some of the Zarifs’ tenants, leading the Lancashire Constabulary and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to launch a joint investigation. 

During the investigation, Mr Zarif was caught on video dancing and arm-wrestling, despite saying he was in so much physical pain, particularly in his left arm, that he was unable to use cutlery to eat.

Mother and son, Khalida Zarif, 51, and Sakib Zarif, 33, (pictured) from Lancashire were jailed last week after they were caught swindling £51,000 in grossly exaggerating disability benefits claims following a police investigation


During the investigation, Mr Zarif was caught on video arm-wrestling, despite saying he was in so much physical pain, particularly in his left arm, that he had to eat blended food through a straw

His 51-year-old mother, who on a high rate of disability payments for many years, claimed that she had to crawl, use a zimmer frame or be pushed in a wheelchair as she was unable to walk properly. 

However, while under police surveillance, she was seen many times lifting heavy items including bags of shopping and walking without any assistance.

Mr Zarif’s sentence also includes a count of theft as he was found to have stolen money from a dead man’s bank account.  

The police investigation revealed that in October 2018, one of Zarif’s tenants had died but someone continued to withdraw the man’s benefits. 

Sakib Zarif’s vehicle was seen in the vicinity of the cashpoints where the money was taken from and the man’s PIN code was found in Mr Zarif’s phone when it was seized by police.  

In total, over £1,650 had been taken from the dead man’s bank account. 

Detectives found that Sakib played a key role in the conspiracy and he, along with his mother Khalida, grossly exaggerated illnesses and disabilities to claim associated benefits.

When applying for disability payments in August 2016 and in April 2019, Sakib Zarif claimed that following an assault in 2015, in which he was the victim, he had been left unable to prepare meals for himself and had to eat blended food through a straw.

He also claimed relied on his parents to help him, was not motivated to take care of himself or his personal hygiene and needed prompting to clean himself or change his clothes. 


The 33-year-old, who was filmed dancing at a wedding, claimed he was left so disabled following an assault in 2015, he relied on his parents to help him 

The 33-year-old also claimed to feel so much physical pain, particularly in his left arm, meaning he was unable to drive and could not use cutlery to eat.   

However, this was found to be in sharp contrast to his muscular appearance and behaviour witnessed during the investigation in 2019.

In one incident, he was caught carrying a child with his left arm, taking part in an arm-wrestling competition, regularly driving, and exercising in the gym – all while using his left arm.

His blatant dishonesty led to him being overpaid £13,502 by the DWP.  

On July 2, 2018, a BMW 320 worth £37,000 was delivered and was in the name of one of the families’ tenants. 

The tenant had got the car whilst legally claiming disability benefits as part of the motability scheme.

A £2,749 downpayment had been made on the car in May 2018 and it was found that Sakib regularly drove it. Police believe that the true owner of the vehicle never drove it.

When Sakib was arrested on March 28, 2019, boxing and baseball equipment was found in the boot of the BMW – suggesting he was more physically active than he said in his benefit application – as well as debit cards and PIN numbers that did not belong to him or his family. 

His mother, Khalida Zarif, had stated in her 2015 disability benefit application, that she had suffered from an array of medical conditions including a mental illness, very severe pain in her back resulting in reduced mobility, vertigo and blackouts, severe arthritis and joint stiffness, a heart problem and diabetes.

She claimed that this meant she was not safe in the kitchen and needed assistance to prepare a simple meal; easy tasks such as doing the washing up had required her needing hospital treatment; she required adapted cutlery, as well as needing assistance to eat, drink and dress.

Khalida Zarif, 51, (pictured) claimed that she had to crawl or be pushed in a wheelchair as she was unable to walk properly. However, while under police surveillance, she was seen many times lifting heavy items including bags of shopping and walking without any assistance

Mrs Zarif claimed that she had to get help to wash herself and didn’t care for her personal hygiene; was unable to mix or socialise with others due to severe anxiety; had to crawl, use a zimmer frame or be pushed in a wheelchair as she was unable to walk properly; was easily confused; needed family members to help her communicate and her eyes were always watering meaning she was unable to read.

The police investigation in 2019 found that many of these claims she made in her 2015 disability benefit application were no longer true. 

During surveillance in February 2019, she was seen many times lifting heavy items including bags of shopping, walking without any assistance, driving a Mercedes and attended the bank, engaging in financial transactions.  

In addition, Mrs Zarif was seen watering plants and carrying a large plant pots in her garden, picking up a wooden bird table she had knocked over, as well as lifting a child on to some swings and out of a car.  

Staff at the Job Center stated that Mrs Zarif regularly visited to fill in forms so she could be paid rent from tenants, said she was always clean and smartly dressed.

In total, she was overpaid almost £24,000. 

Faisal Zarif, another of Mrs Zarif’s sons, claimed carer’s allowance for his mother and another relative, in June 2007 despite them not requiring the level of care that they claimed. 

He also disclosed earnings that were in excess of the amount permitted to be able to claim carer’s allowance. He was overpaid almost £11,425. 

Mrs Zarif’s youngest son, Atif, claimed to care for his brother, Sakib, for at least 35 hours per week – which was false – and also received over £2,500 in associated benefits. 

In all, the total of the deception by the family amounted to over £51,000 in benefit payments. The officer leading the investigation, Detective Sergeant Stu Peall from Blackburn Police said the Zarif family were motivated by ‘pure greed’ and hoped the case would serve as a warning to other ‘greedy fraudsters’. (Pictured: Sakib Zarif dancing)

In all, the total of the deception by the family amounted to over £51,000 in benefit payments.

As part of the Zarifs’ conviction, the money is being paid back.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Sergeant Stu Peall from Blackburn Police said the Zarif family were motivated by ‘pure greed’ and hoped the case would serve as a warning to other ‘greedy fraudsters’.

He said: ‘The Zarifs, particularly Sakib and his mum Khalida, were motivated by pure greed, telling lies or not updating the DWP so they could get money they were not entitled to. 

‘These people, through their sheer dishonesty, have made a mockery of real, deserving benefit claims made by those who require and are entitled to the help of these payments, for genuine reasons.

‘I hope this case serves as a warning to other greedy fraudsters, who, through their lies and exaggerations are taking money from the system which is there to help those in need. They will be found, no matter how many years they think you have been getting away with it.’

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