24 Oct 2013

Why is there so much benefit fraud? Look at this case

Two benefit cheat brothers who conned Leeds taxpayers out of £23,000 have received suspended jail sentences.

Amrez Hussain, 34, and Parvez Hussain, 36, were both given six-month prison sentences suspended for 12 months, as well as 200 hours unpaid work, for the joint scam in which Amrez claimed housing benefit for a property he did not live at. He managed to carry on the fraud for seven years, posing as his brother’s tenant.

The scam was finally uncovered when the real tenant at the property raised concerns with the council’s benefit fraud team.

Leeds Crown Court heard that investigations by the council’s fraud team proved that Amrez did not live at the property for which he had been claiming housing benefit between 2003 and 2010.

Steve Carey, chief officer for welfare and benefits at Leeds City Council, said:
This shows how thorough investigations can help wheedle out those people who are claiming money which they are simply not entitled to. Fraudulently claiming benefits is taking money away from those genuinely in need. We will always do our best to help those who need our help, but we will not hesitate to act when people take advantage for their own gain.
The court heard the brothers have now paid all the money back to Leeds City Council.

This scam went on for seven years, and they would probably still be milking the system to this day if the tenant had not "raised concerns".

Even then it seems the investigation had to be "thorough". But why should it have needed more than an hour? Amrez wasn't living there, and even if he had been, the landlord was his brother, so he wouldn't have been eligible in any case.

The housing benefit was stopped in 2010, but it took until 2013 for the case to come to court.

It seems the brothers were readily able to pay the money back. This isn't good enough. Benefit thieves do it for the money. When they are above the assets threshold for benefits they should have to pay back twice what they stole.

This might be some deterrent at least, even though the chances of detection are slight.

A recent report by the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that nationwide, there were nearly £1.2 billion of standing housing benefit ‘overpayments’ in July 2012, an increase of 11 per cent on the same point the previous year. The total overpayments identified during the first two quarters of 2012/13 had also increased by five per cent.

In September 2012, there were 1,156 full-time equivalent fraud investigators dealing with 65,030 fraud referrals.

That's 56 cases each. Millions of people claim benefits. Over a million go on or off benefits each year.

Fraud detection is purely nominal.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I have inside knowledge of this case, and the truth is that the fraud amounted to around £400. The real tenant was a new tenant who replaced the so called brother who wasn't living there - it was the new tenants claim for HB which identified that the old tenant had left. Whilst I would always deplore fraud, it would appear that the story being given isn't all it is supposed to be. Of course, I wouldn't know that if I didn't have inside knowledge.

Anonymous said...

You can claim HB when the landlord is a relative, unless he is the father of your children.

If it was down to me, I wouldnt allow it - if the landlord will not evict over rent arrears then its not a genuine tenancy agreement.

Anonymous said...

I was the tenant and entered the property 7yrs later. It was not £400 evidence proved it was £23,448.31 and both pleaded guilty! He also quite rightly lost his job. Justice was served

Anonymous said...

And if it was only around £400 then why is a date listed for the 'procedes of crime act' by the judge during sentencing.