20 Jun 2014

Jail for repeat benefit frauds

This man helped himself to fraudulent benefits all over the shop.

A serial fraudster has been jailed - again - after a court found him guilty of a string of benefit frauds shortly after his release from another prison term. (h/t Dave)

Michael Robert Gardner, 31, from Ingol, Preston, defrauded the public purse to the tune of £10,500, after failing to declare he was living with a partner, whom he then married in 2011.

Thousands of pounds of overpayments were made to the convicted fraudster, including £4,502 overpaid in Housing Benefit and £996 in overpayments in Council Tax Benefit from Preston City Council.

He was also convicted over around a total of £4,500 in overpayments in Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Both bodies prosecuted Gardner at Preston Magistrates Court but he denied the offences, some of which dated back to 2010.

However he was jailed for 26 weeks after being convicted of six counts of fraud by dishonestly failing to disclose details affecting his benefit entitlements, after a trial.

The bench said custody was necessary because the offences were “serious” and “fraudulent from the outset”.

They also cited his previous convictions for fraud, the “multiplicity of offences” and his recent release from prison for similar offences.

Imagine how costly and time consuming the gathering of evidence and the prosecution must have been. This is why there is no chance of proper policing of the millions of benefit claims made every year. This is why official benefit fraud figures are seriously understated. And it suits politicians to keep it that way.

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