22 Jul 2014

Benefits cheat who scammed £100,000 in nine years of lies is given 178 YEARS to pay back money to taxpayers

A benefits cheat has been given 178 years to pay back the money she swindled from taxpayers. (h/t Dave)

Nicola Daly claimed £100,000 in council tax, housing benefit and income support payments for almost nine years.

Daly, of Tilehurst, Berkshire, was given a 16-month jail sentence for the fraud which was only discovered after her elderly mother-in-law inadvertently revealed the deception it with a residential care application.

A judge heard that Daly claimed the cash after lying to her local council that she was raising her two children alone.

In fact the cheat had lived with her partner, who worked for John Lewis, for several years and continued to do so despite repeatedly claiming she had been estranged from him for 15 years.

The trickster was finally caught after her elderly mother-in-law applied for residential care and declared that she owned a house where her son Steven Randall and Daly both lived.

The 39-year-old was sentenced to 16 months in prison at Reading Crown Court after admitting five charges of fraud and making false statements.

The court heard she is repaying the amount at a rate of £50 a month, which will take a staggering 178 years for the total to be recovered.

Alison Ginn prosecuting, said: 'Between June 2004 and March 2013, very nearly nine years, Daly claimed and received benefits in the form of income support, housing support and council tax benefits to which she was not entitled. The total amount she received was £107,154.50. She was representing that she was a single parent living with her children when in fact she lived with their father, Steven Randall, who was employed from June 2004 at John Lewis in Bracknell, Berkshire.'

The court heard that Daly had clearly stated on benefit claim forms to Reading Borough Council that she only lived with her two children, now aged five and 11 years.

Mrs Ginn said: 'Reading Borough Council requested more information and she said that she was not in contact with Steven Randall and he had not paid any maintenance for his children.' She added in subsequent claims that she had not spoken the man she lived with for 15 years.

'It all came to light when Mr Randall's mother, Ivy, completed an application for people seeking residential care, on which she said she jointly owned a premises with her son, who lived there with his partner and children,' said Mrs Ginn. 'Mr Randall's wages were being paid into this defendant's bank account, the same one into which her benefits were paid.'

When Daly was questioned by police in March 2013, she lied and said the father of her children was Mr Randall's brother Darren. She claimed to have never been in a relationship with Mr Randall and said his wages were only paid into her account as he had debt problems. However, she requested a second interview a month later and admitted her web of lies, telling police she lied as she 'thought she could get away with it'.

Graham Bennett, mitigating, said Daly had some previous convictions but none for over a decade. He said that at the time of the initial false claim, she and her partner had struggled with drug addictions and she had just given birth to their first child.

'She was in significant financial difficulties,' said Mr Bennett. 'The income support gave rise to council tax and housing benefit and the same false declarations were made. Regrettably she did not correct matters and this continued throughout the years.'

He said the couple had married in April this year and Daly was working part-time to repay her debt at £50 per month. 'It is not a repayment that is going to be dealt with swiftly but her intent is to repay as much as possible,' said Mr Bennett.

He asked Judge Johannah Cutts to consider a suspended prison sentence due to the difficulty a custodial term would present to her young family.

Judge Cutts said she recognised that 'life had been difficult' for Daly in 2004 and commended her for beating her drug addiction, but condemned her lies:
Social security support is not to pay people who feel hard up, it doesn't come from a limitless supply of cash. Taxpayers' money is used in a benevolent society to help those truly in need and you did not fall into that category.
Sentencing Daly to 16 months in prIson, she added: 'It is often the families of those who commit crimes who suffer the most.'

Three related charges, which Daly denied, were left to lay on file by the Crown Prosecution Service.

21 Jul 2014

A practitioner writes

In the comments to a previous post a practitioner writes
Fraud staff only get involved when a claim is referred to them. I regularly process claims which I think are suspicious, I cant do anything else without proof. As single parent fraud appears to be the easiest then more should be done when a child is born and more spot checks on live claims. But my manager wants claims to be processed as quickly as possible because that is how we are judged. I have always said that 'mystery shoppers' should make fraudulent claims and then see how many get paid. The results would be staggering!

19 Jul 2014

Illegal sub-letter caught and sued

A tenant who was subletting her council property has been ordered to pay back more than £10,000 to Greenwich Borough Council.

On 4 July, Chesterfield County Court judge Davies found that Ms Jean Neal, formerly a tenant at Sunbury Street, Woolwich, should pay £10,970 plus costs. The council brought a small claim in the county court.

Ms Neal was residing in Derbyshire and sublet her property from 15 April 2011 to 19 August 2012.

District judge Davies said that Ms Neal must pay back the money, plus interest, expenses and legal costs to the council. The total amount due to be repaid is £12,169.83.

Chris Kirby, cabinet member for housing, said:
In the last few years the Royal Borough [of Greenwich] has strengthened its investigation techniques and these new detection methods are now being used to full effect. This successful case is another example of the innovative work now being undertaken and sends a strong message to those that set out to sublet our valuable housing stock that “you will get caught” and we will seek to recover our financial losses.

18 Jul 2014

24 people charged with £400,000 DWP benefit fraud

Andrew Penhale, Deputy Head of the CPS Specialist Fraud Division said:
Following an investigation by the Central Criminal Investigation Service, part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the CPS has authorised charges against 18 men and six women, all of whom live or work in London, in connection with alleged benefit fraud.

On dates between July 2011 and September 2013, it is alleged that these individuals took part in a large-scale, organised attack on the DWP benefits claims and payments system, dishonestly obtaining £446,844.85 between them.

In order to carry out this fraud, it is alleged that the defendants hijacked the identities of innocent members of the public without their knowledge or consent. The evidence suggests that some of the defendants had access to third party personal data before providing details to other defendants in order for them to make fraudulent claims for DWP benefits, namely Jobseekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance.

The 24 individuals are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. In accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, we have determined that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and a prosecution of all the defendants is in the public interest.

The defendants are due to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, 23 July 2014. They have a right to a fair trial and it is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.
From the CPS website

Confiscation order against benefit thief

A benefit fraudster has been ordered to pay back £35,000 or face a longer term in prison. (h/t Dave)

Stephanie Osbourne, 68, from Immingham, was convicted of benefit fraud on December 6, after pleading guilty to four charges of dishonestly obtaining pension credit and council tax benefit totalling £31,389.

This followed a lengthy joint investigation between North East Lincolnshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions. On January 17, she was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison.

She had already repaid the council the overpaid council tax benefit but her pension credit over-payment remained outstanding. As a result, the DWP's Financial Investigation Unit conducted an inquiry, culminating in a Confiscation Hearing at Grimsby Crown Court, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Prior to the hearing, Osbourne agreed to repay £35,000 and the court ordered that she will be required to pay the money within six months or face a further prison sentence of up to 15 months – and she will still have to repay the £35,000.

Christine Caine, DWP fraud investigation manager for the North East, said:
Benefit fraud is a crime and we are dedicated to catching those who commit it. Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this cost the taxpayer money that should be used to help those in need. We are determined to find those who we suspect are cheating the system by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils. If you suspect someone of benefit fraud, please call the Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440 so we can continue to tackle the problem in your area.
More

17 Jul 2014

Spotlight on asylum seeker fraud

An asylum seeker who claimed they were 'destitute' to get thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money was found to have £74,000 in cash and illegal wages.

The scandal was unearthed by the immigration watchdog in a damning report which exposed widespread fraud in the refugee system.

John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, said asylum fraud cost taxpayers £1.2 million a year. But he warned that the true amount was likely to be 'substantially higher'.

Mr Vine said the Government was failing to tackle asylum seekers ripping off the taxpayers.

The largest fraud seen by the chief inspector saw an asylum seeker handed £18,000 in support, while pocketing £74,000 from other benefits and wages from working on the side. The unnamed claimant was caught, but avoided jail - receiving a 12 month suspended sentence for fraud - and was not even asked to repay the cash even though they had £10,500 in savings.

Another asylum seeker and her husband illegally pocketed £11,000 in child benefit and child tax credit. The pair saved £10,000 of the benefits - but were only ordered to repay £6,000.

Another supposedly destitute asylum seeker who was found with two laptops, a TV, several mobile phones and an exercise machine.

Destitute asylum seekers can apply for 'asylum support' once they have been allowed to stay in the country. They can get free accommodation plus £36 a week if they are single or £72 for a couple. But as part of the deal they are not allowed to claim other benefits. The system costs £155 million a year - supporting 26,731 asylum seekers.

In his report, Mr Vine said:
I found no evidence that the Home Office had an effective strategy to identify and tackle fraud in the asylum support system. Work had not been undertaken to determine what its exposure to fraud risk was.

No attempt had been made to ensure fraud and compliance teams operated in a consistent manner and there were insufficient resources dedicated to this work. As a result opportunities to identify and deter those wishing to commit fraud were lost.

Almost half of my recommendations in this report relate to improvements in tackling fraud. The Home Office must ensure these are implemented swiftly and effectively.

16 Jul 2014

What it takes to prosecute one £3,930 benefit fraud

This is how long it takes to prosecute one small benefit fraud. (h/t Dave) It's not even as if the council detected it - she came to the council's attention thanks to a tip-off.

Elisha Lopez filled in forms to say she was a single parent living alone at a property in Bury. The 36 year old mother of four also claimed her boyfriend moved out of the property when she moved in, entitling her to claim housing benefit on the basis that she was not earning enough in her role as a part-time nurse.

But in January 2013, a whistleblower alerted town-hall chiefs to the fact the Lopez had a second job running a cake-making business. They also alleged that Lopez’s boyfriend was living at her home.

The council investigated. They had to prove she was not single, so they recorded Lopez’s boyfriend leaving the property each morning and arriving in the evening.

"Claims were made", we are told, that the man lived with his mother near Lopez. So the council had to dig deeper. They found that two vehicles he owned were registered to Lopez’s home. They then looked at her Facebook account and saw she was listed as ‘in a relationship’ with the man and was also using the account to take cake-making orders for her business.

Police arrested Lopez in 2014 and, when appearing before Bury magistrates on July 9, she admitted committing benefit fraud over a 26-month period up to August 2013.

So the tip-off comes in January 2013, but the council aren't sure enough of their ground to stop her benefits until eight months later.

It then takes a further four months before she is arrested, and eleven months after her benefits were stopped the case comes to court.

After all this, she is sentenced to a 12-month Community Order with 130 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £928. She will also have to pay back the £3,930 in benefits that she wrongly claimed.

After the hearing, the council’s regulations representative Cllr Sandra Walmsley said:
Benefit fraud is not only wrong, but it’s unfair on the taxpayer and on genuine claimants. We will continue to take action against those who abuse the system.
But there aren't enough benefit fraud staff even to check all the claims - let alone prosecute more than a tiny fraction of the benefit fraud out there.

14 Jul 2014

Light sentence for 5 year benefit fraud

A Stretford man who had more than £60,000 savings has been sentenced for falsely claiming benefits.

Kemal Arifsalih, 48, declared he had no capital, savings or investments in the UK or abroad when he submitted an application to Trafford Council for benefits.

However, he failed to declare that he had more than £60,000 savings in a building society account which was in his son’s name.

This resulted in an overpayment of housing and council tax benefits between June 2006 and October 2011, totalling more than £25,500.

He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on July 3 and was handed a 12-month community order requiring him to undertake 120 hours unpaid work.

Trafford Council is also recovering all the falsely claimed money.

Executive councillor for finance, Cllr Patrick Myers, said: “We are determined to recover all money falsely claimed and we urge our communities to be on the lookout for those making fraudulent claims from the public purse.”

12 Jul 2014

Benefit thief hid £115k inheritance

A woman who cheated benefits despite inheriting £115,000 from her wrestling champ dad has been spared jail.

Four days after making claims for income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit, Samantha Jordan received a fortune from the estate of her late dad, Mike ‘Flash’ Jordan, the Ancoats wrestler who won a lightweight world championship title back in 1987.

Manchester Crown Court heard Ms Jordan got the money on reaching her 21st birthday, seven years after the death of her father, who appeared in bouts televised on ITV’s ‘World of Sport’ in his Eighties heyday.

Instead of revealing it to the Department of Work and Pensions, Jordan set about ‘blowing’ the bequest with pals, the court heard.

By the time the DWP learnt of it, she had claimed £15,000 in benefits.

Jordan, from Moston, admitted charges of failing to declare a change in circumstances and was sentenced to a 12-month community order, 100 hours of unpaid work, and a requirement to attend a probation service programme.

Paul Hodgkinson, prosecuting, told the court that Jordan, 25, ‘must have known’ the bequest was imminent when she made the benefit claims.

He pushed for Proceeds of Crime Act hearings which would look at whether she had any assets - or whether she really had ‘blown the lot’.

Kirstin Beswick, defending, said: 'Her father died when she was 14 - he was to a great degree an absent father. She did know he left her some money, but she wasn’t entitled to it until her 21st birthday and had no idea how much that was. Her father was a professional wrestler and he had obviously managed to accumulate rather more money than she had ever seen in her lifetime.'

Ms Beswick said Jordan got the money at a time when she was ‘naive’ and ‘heavily pregnant’.

He added: 'She’s not spent it on anything worthwhile. All her friends helped her spend it, not a single one said "I think you ought to do something else with it, for you and your son".'

Deputy Judge Robert Brown, sentencing, said: 'It was a very, very stupid thing which you did with the money that you got from your father, squandering it in that very short period of time. You will no doubt have to live with the consequences for a considerable time indeed - until you have paid off the money that you owe to the department.'

11 Jul 2014

Unpaid work for £20k benefits thief

A costume designer on Disney hit movie Maleficent that starred Angelina Jolie has been convicted of a £20,000 benefit fraud scam.

Helen Beaumont, 37, also worked on alien invasion movie Attack the Block, music videos for Jarvis Cocker and Scouting for Girls and West End productions of Billy Elliot and Singing in the Rain.

Her glittering CV boasts a string of credits for work for the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Young Vic as well as the BBC and E4.

But Beaumont, of Highgate, north London, did not disclose her work or savings of more than £16,000 when applying for housing benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance.

A probe by Haringey Council and the Department for Work and Pensions revealed she illegally claimed nearly £20,000 in benefits between May 2009 and November 2012.

Beaumont, who studied for a BA in history of art and design at Camberwell College of Art, was spared jail when she was sentenced at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court.

After pleading guilty of two charges of fraud by failing to disclose capital, she was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

Beaumont illegally claimed £13,482.14 in housing benefit and £6,465.58 in Jobseeker's Allowance. She has already repaid the cash in full.

Councillor Jason Arthur, Haringey's cabinet member for resources and culture, said: 'Beaumont was living a real-life fantasy, scamming thousands of pounds in benefits out of taxpayers while dressing the rich and famous. But she should have known better than anyone that fairytale villains never get away with it.'

Oh ha ha ha, that is so ponderous.

'Whatever your job, abusing the benefits system is an insult to the vast majority of families who play by the rules, and we will not tolerate it.'

Beaumont was also ordered by magistrates to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.