Couple who claimed £40,000 in benefits as they sailed round the world are jailed
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:54 PM on 20th March 2009
A couple who ran a £40,000 benefits swindle while sailing the world on a luxury yacht were jailed today.
Swindlers Shashi Bacheta, 52, and Jeffrey Cole, 58, admitted a total of 20 charges connected with the elaborate fraud, which was played out over almost five years.
Bacheta swindled her way to a series of benefits claiming she was too ill even to walk while she was scuba diving
in Kenya and planning to carry on around the world on her lover's £100,000 yacht, The Kismet.
Shashi Bacheta and Jeffrey Cole set sail on a luxury yacht while running an elaborate £40,000 benefits fraud
She was jailed for 21 months today at Swansea Crown Court after the full details of the case were spelled out to a judge over a two-hour period.
Her lover, who was at the "helm" of the con, was jailed for nine months.
Anju Bacheta, 28, daughter of the accused, cried "Oh my God, that's my mother", as Bacheta was taken away to prison.
She was then fined £500 for the minor part she played in the swindle, after admitting fraudulently claiming several hundred pounds for being her mother's carer.
Judge Huw Davies QC gave Cole a lesser jail sentence because of the smaller amount of just over £13,000 he had jointly claimed with Bacheta over the period.
He used an inheritance to buy the luxury yacht, which was the springboard for the couple's sailing trips from where it was moored in Gran Canaria.
Passing sentence, the judge told him: "You were at the helm
in a very real sense and set off to enjoy not only your own wealth but such money
as you managed to get from public funds."
Carl Harrison, prosecuting, told the court that Bacheta had claimed to be living in a succession of addresses in Swansea, South Wales, where her benefit claims were made.
At the time, she was variously scuba diving
in Kenya, swimming with dolphins
in the Canary Islands and planning to sail further around the world with Cole.
When the couple were arrested in January last year after an 18-month Department of Work and Pensions investigation in conjunction with Swansea Council, they were already planning a road trip across the US in an imported Volkswagen camper van.
Bacheta, a mother of three, was caught out when investigators tracked down the yacht on an internet
blog site called smugmug.com.
On the blog was a series of photographs of Bacheta and her lover Cole lounging on the decks of the Kismet at a time when she claimed to be too ill to get out of bed
Bacheta had admitted 16 offences of fraudulently claiming housing and council tax benefit, false accounting and obtaining money
transfers by deception from the end of 2002 until the start of last year.
Cole, her accomplice, admitted four charges including receiving cash by deception for Bacheta, false accounting and wrongfully obtaining credit.
Read more: Couple who claimed £40,000 in benefits as they sailed round the world are jailed | Mail Online