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12 Apr 2013

Top-off brings three benefit fraud convictions

In court on 25 February, Graham Atkinson (59), from Hyde, had pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining Employment Support Allowance and Income Support from the Department for Work and Pensions amounting to £10,566 between November 2007 and July 2011.

He claimed on the basis he had no income or capital, but in fact he owned properties in Manchester, Wilmslow and Hale valued at over £1.8 million. Having pleaded guilty to dishonestly making false statements and failing to report changes in his circumstances, he was sentenced on 8 April to a two month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 140 hours unpaid work.

His son, Matthew Atkinson (30), from Sale, also pleaded guilty on 25 February to dishonestly obtaining Housing Benefit amounting to £6,662. He had dishonestly made false statements to Trafford Council's benefits department, stating he had a liability to pay rent to a landlord, Union Street Nominees. No such agreement actually existed and as a result he was overpaid Housing Benefit between November 2004 and July 2007. He was sentenced to 120 hours unpaid work.

Trafford Council is taking proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act against both Graham and Matthew Atkinson.

Graham Atkinson's former partner, Gillian Brown (51), pleaded guilty on 13 March to dishonestly obtaining Housing Benefit amounting to £18,173 from three separate local authorities. She will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on 26 April.

Trafford Council fraud officers were initially alerted to this matter following anonymous information in respect of Gillian Brown's Housing Benefit claim. The subsequent investigation uncovered numerous offences relating to her ex-partner and his son. The full extent of the fraud was established as part of a joint working operation involving the three local authorities and the Department for Work and Pensions.

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