16 Apr 2015

Woman stole £17k benefits

A 48-year-old Aughton woman was given a suspended jail sentence after illegally claiming £17,082.60 in benefits.

At Ormskirk Magistrates Court Deborah Coates admitted to failing to notify West Lancashire Borough Council's Benefits Service and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) she had savings of £25,000 when she applied for housing benefit in July 2011. The legal limit for savings a claimant may have to qualify for benefits is £16,000.

Between July 2011 and September 2012 Ms Coates was overpaid housing benefit of £8,375.91 and council tax benefit of £1,911.80. Between July 2011 and December 2012, she was overpaid employment support allowance (ESA) of £6,794.89.

Ms Coates, who has repaid the falsely claimed ESA and housing benefit, was sentenced to 16 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and issued with a 12 month community order.

She must also pay £315 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge. The council tax benefit she has falsely claimed is still outstanding, and the council will pursue this.

This benefit fraud case was uncovered by the Council's Benefits Investigation Team, who worked in conjunction with DWP investigators. Anyone who falsely claims Social Security Benefits must repay them in full.

Source

14 Apr 2015

Mother lied about her husband's employment

A mother of two has avoided jailed after fraudulently claiming more than £19,000 in benefits. (h/t A Reader)

Lori Marriott, 23, told the Department for Work and Pensions and Cheshire East Council her husband was not working when he was.

As a result she was overpaid housing benefit, council tax benefit and council tax support.

The fraud, which stretched over three years, was discovered when the council ‘data matched’ information Marriott had given.

Marriott, from Wilmslow, admitted two charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit, and one charge of failing to give notice of a change affecting entitlement to council tax reduction.

She was given an 18-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and a community order with supervision.

Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court heard that between 2009 and 2011 Marriott correctly advised the council of changes to her circumstances when her husband who was then her boyfriend began living with her.

The court heard that the couple were in and out of work during that time.

Then in July 2011 Marriott stopped telling the council the truth about his earnings, prosecutors told the court.

As a result Marriott falsely claimed housing benefit between July 25, 2011, and June 22, 2014, council tax benefit between July 25, 2011, and March 31, 2013, and council tax support between April 1, 2013, and July 9, 2014.

Aoife Ryan, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: “In June 2014 as part of a data matching process it was discovered that her husband had been in paid employment through a number of companies which were not declared to the council. Further investigation found two undeclared bank accounts in his name.”

The court heard that the total fraud was for £19,301 and include £16,402 housing benefit, £1,743 in council tax benefit, and £1,156 in council tax support benefit.

A report from probation services found Marriott had been ‘kept in the dark’ by her husband over his income.

Raj Chopra, defending, said: “Her husband never told her what he earned and just gave her £50 housekeeping. She should have been proactive.”

Source and picture

13 Apr 2015

Mother jailed for £110k benefit fraud

A mother from Shirley has been jailed after admitting £110,000 worth of benefit fraud.

Teresa Kearney, 49, told Croydon Council she was a single parent when she had been living with her husband.

An anonymous tip-off prompted a joint investigation by the council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

They found that, over a period of six years, Kearney had pocketed £110,845.97 in benefits she wasn't entitled to.

Kearney pleaded guilty to five counts of dishonestly making false representations to obtain benefits.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison at Croydon Crown Court on Wednesday.

Richard Simpson, the council's director of finance and assets, said: "This was a prolonged fraud which deprived the hard-working and honest taxpayer out of tens of thousands of pounds.

"We are grateful for the anonymous tip-off which led to this prosecution. It goes to show how we rely on members of the public to tell us about any suspected benefit fraudsters.

"Where we believe fraud is being carried out, we will always investigate and see that those culpable are dealt with by the courts."

Source

10 Apr 2015

Benefit fraudster too old and sick for real punishment

A 73-year-old benefit cheat who dishonestly claimed £69,000 she wasn’t entitled to has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send her straight to prison. (h/t Dave)

Eileen Ray claimed on the forms that she wasn’t living with a partner at her home in Hogarth Road, Ipswich when she was living with her husband Peter Ray, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Fraud investigators who carried out surveillance on Ray’s home saw her husband regularly coming and going from the property and discovered he had given Hogarth Road as his address to employers and loan companies. During Ray’s trial last month the court heard that a housing officer who visited the property found a number of improvements had been made, including a new kitchen and bathroom and there was also a conservatory, a loft conversion and a log cabin.

Ray denied three offences of making a false representation to obtain benefit, three offences 
of fraud and obtaining order money by deception but was found guilty of all the offences. The offences, which relate to claims for Income Support, Pension Credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, were committed between 1998-2012.

Sentencing Ray to a 15-month prison sentence suspended for two years Recorder Ian Evans said she had told the probation service she didn’t accept the jury’s verdicts. “That is a fact you have to accept and you have to live with however much you shake your head,” said the judge.

He said that in his opinion she had been convicted of the offences on “overwhelming” evidence. In addition to the suspended prison sentence Recorder Evans made Ray the subject of a six month curfew between the hours of 9am-5pm except pre-arranged medical appointments. Ian Persaud 
for Ray said the benefit overpayment was being taken each week from her benefit payments.

He said Ray was in poor health and there would be grave concerns for her well-being if she was sent to prison.

Source

9 Apr 2015

Suspended sentence for second time fraudster

A couple who cheated Epsom and Ewell Borough Council out of £26,000 in dishonestly claimed benefits have been spared prison.

Linda Parker, 56, and Raymond Clarke, 60, were found guilty of benefit fraud offences.

Sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Friday, March 27, both were given prison sentences of 26 weeks, suspended for a year, and must adhere to a six-week curfew at their home.

Epsom Council investigated the couple after computer data showed Clarke had lived at the same addresses as Parker, but that information had not been included within her claim for benefits.

Several different documents indicated he had been living at the address, despite claims to the contrary.

In 2011, Parker had been given a caution for a previous fraud offence.

Sentencing, Judge Recorder West said both defendants knew they were not entitled to benefits and had behaved dishonestly, depriving the council of funds for those honestly entitled to them.

He said: "It also persuades the public to look on benefit claimants with distrust. This is a serious amount of money". He concluded by saying the pair’s actions were "lamentable".

Epsom Council is seeking to recover the money.

A spokesman said: "The court has handed down punishments to these fraudsters showing benefit fraud will not be tolerated. These fraudsters live with these suspended sentences hanging over them, as well as having to live with the restrictions imposed by the curfews. People claiming benefit they are not entitled to should be aware fraudsters are getting caught. If anyone else has not declared their true circumstances they should do so - before they are caught."

Source

Nothing terribly bad will happen to them for now. They just have to stay in more for a few weeks.

As Linda Parker had offended before, you might think the council would have kept a special eye on her claims. Evidently not?

8 Apr 2015

Mother falsely claimed £24k

A benefits cheat mum from Crewe who falsely claimed more than £24,000 has been spared jail.

Paula Mullock, 29, cheated the benefits system by falsely claiming to be a lone parent on a low income.

On March 30, at South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court, Mullock admitted four charges of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances that she knew would affect her entitlement to Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Income Support.

Her fraud was uncovered by investigators from Cheshire East Council’s benefit investigations team and the DWP.

Magistrates heard that an investigation into Mullock’s claim found that her partner had joined the household in November 2010 and had been supporting her and the family financially.

Despite this, she continued her claim as a lone parent for another three years and six months by providing false statements to the DWP.

As a result, Mullock received a total of £24,694.38 in benefits that she was not entitled to.

Steph Cordon, Cheshire East Council’s head of communities, said: “It is a big mistake for fraudsters to think they can get away with claiming benefits they are not entitled to. They risk being prosecuted and ending up with a criminal conviction for a serious offence of dishonesty. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards benefit fraud because we are determined to ensure that the benefits system works for people who really need help.”

Magistrates sentenced Mullock to 18 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months and 100 hours unpaid work for the community. She was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and costs of £85.

Source

2 Apr 2015

8 months means 3 months as confiscation hearing stalled

A benefit cheat who claimed more than £20,000 despite having a fortune in a Swiss bank account has been released from prison after just three months.

Mother of two Caroline Foxley, from the Cotswolds, was sentenced to eight months in prison on January 19 for claiming benefits while she had about £250,000 stashed in a Swiss bank account.

The 59-year-old, who previously lived in Chipping Campden but is now of no fixed address, had insisted that the money belonged to the father of her children, Dr Kurt Mayer, and could not be touched due to his alleged links with the Mafia in Italy.

She was released from prison on March 27 and attended Gloucester Crown Court today for a confiscation hearing at which the prosecution alleged she had benefited from crime by about £275,000.

However, prosecutor Stephen Mooney said the Crown still has no information about how much money remains in her Swiss bank account so the court cannot yet rule on exactly how much will be confiscated from her under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Mr Mooney said that if she does not provide evidence about how much remains in her account the court can make an order confiscating the whole sum of about £275,000 from her.

Oh just get on with it. She obviously has reasons for not co-operating.

He reminded the court that the prosecution case at Mrs Foxley's trial last year was that she had put “something in the region of £250,000” into a Swiss bank account while claiming benefits and paying private school fees for her two children.

"The real issue now is how much money is left in the Swiss bank account," he said.

He said he understood that Oliver Wilmott, representing Mrs Foxley, had made “significant progress” in finding out how much is now in the account.

What does this mean?

Recorder Peter Towler agreed to adjourn the hearing until May 13 so that her Swiss bank assets can be discovered and an order made to confiscate the money.

In October last year a jury convicted Mrs Foxley of four offences of failing to notify Cotswold District Council of a change in her entitlement to benefits.

During the trial, Mr Mooney said: "She made a calm, calculated and rational decision to top up her already quite substantial income by making false claims for benefits. This is a thoroughly dishonest woman who decided to get money she knew she was not entitled to in the hope and expectation, and arrogance, that she would not be caught."

But these process-driven officials are still letting her take the law for a fool.

Source

1 Apr 2015

Pension credit cheat jailed

A benefits cheat granddad will spend eight months behind bars after lying his way to nearly £24,000 in handouts while also having £88,000 in the bank.

Dennis Scott made the false claim that he had only £4,000 - but the crook had just sold a house.

The 65-year-old managed to lie his way to £23,776 in pension credits before he got caught.

He was not entitled to the payments, a court heard, which were received between 2009 and 2014.

Scott admitted to a judge at Hull Crown Court that he lied to the Department of Work and Pensions.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told him: "It must be made very clear to you and to anyone like you who is tempted to defraud the state in respect of social security benefits that a prison sentence is likely to follow.

"You flagrantly breached that system by your shameful conduct.

"For a man of your years you ought to know better."

Source

31 Mar 2015

Costs order for social housing fraud

A family have been evicted from the three-bedroom house they were living in and ordered to pay £30,000 after it was discovered the social housing tenant who was supposed to be living there was actually living somewhere else.

Following an anonymous tip-off, Circle Housing worked alongside Hackney Council’s fraud investigations team and found the home in Forston Street, Shoreditch, was occupied by Margaret Nelson’s daughter Amanda Murray, 51, and her family, while 73-year-old Mrs Nelson – the tenant – lived in Sunnyhill Close with her husband.

Mrs Nelson, her daughter, and her husband Liam Murray, 52, and son Lee Murray, 29, were ordered to pay costs of £30,000 at the Royal Courts of Justice on March 11.

Under the recently introduced Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, tenancy fraud is now a criminal offence that can lead to a two-year prison sentence and unlimited fine.

Mrs Nelson was accused of a “breathtaking” scope of lies, including that she was unable to read, whilst her daughter was accused of “lying like a trooper”.

Although Circle Housing Circle 33 conceded that Mrs Nelson was a regular visitor to Forston Street, it says she had not lived there for at least a decade.

Defence counsel argued that the fact Mrs Nelson stayed overnight in Sunnyhill Close did not necessarily mean that Forston Street was not her main home, and criticised a “flawed investigation”.

Avril Drummond, customer service manager for Circle Housing Circle 33, said housing fraud is taken “very seriously”.

She added: “Every home not occupied by the registered tenant costs taxpayers around £18,000 a year and prevents families on the waiting list and in need of a home from moving into a property. This case demonstrates the important role played by the local community as well as the local authorities in tackling tenancy fraud.”

The social housing property is now back in Circle Housing’s possession and will be made available to someone in genuine need of social housing.

In three years Circle Housing Circle 33 has recovered more than 200 homes.

Source

Social housing fraud is the most wicked form of welfare fraud. The sums that can be saved are huge, but it's so much more than the money - needy families are being deprived of the chance to have a settled home that suits their needs.

27 Mar 2015

Benefit thief fined £100 for illegally claiming £4700

It seems to be Get Off Lightly time in the West Country again. Dave noticed this.

A Torquay woman who cheated the taxpayer of almost £5,000 in benefits has been fined £100 by magistrates.

Audrey Tomlinson, 56, claimed housing benefit on the basis she earned just £81 a week working. But an investigation by Torbay Council found she actually earned £207 a week.

Tomlinson admitted failing to notify the council of a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to housing benefit when she appeared before magistrates in Torquay. The court was told the offence went on for a 14-month period between November 2012 and March 2014.

Prosecutor Michael McCabe said: "This defendant is a long-term benefit claimant who had a detailed history of benefit claiming. She was aware of the need to inform about her change of circumstances. It is clear this defendant was very well aware that wage increases affect entitlement to benefit. The only explanation for her failure to tell them she was working is because she was aware that had she notified them her benefits would have been cut."

Mr McCabe described the offence as 'multiple fraud committed over a significant period of time'.

The full amount she claimed illegally was £4,716.

The prosecutor said the cost of bringing the prosecution to court would be footed by the council tax payer. He asked for £600, which he described as 'only a proportion' of the full costs.

David Charles, mitigating, said Tomlinson's claim for benefits had not been fraudulent from the beginning. He said she had cooperated straight away when the council raised concerns.

Magistrates said they were satisfied she was paying back the £4,716 she had illegally claimed.

They fined the defendant £100; ordered costs of £300 and told her to pay a surcharge of £20.

Source