26 Jul 2014

DWP pats its back but tip-off ended benefit fraud

A benefits cheat who received £134,000 in welfare payments spent six months living in Goa undergoing plastic surgery, despite claiming she could not leave the house has been jailed for 27 months.

Karen Trant, 51, from Dartmouth, Devon, told the DWP that she was unable to leave her house or travel to strange places alone.

Anti-fraud investigators received a tip-off from a member of the public that Trant had bought an apartment in Goa and underwent several cosmetic procedures such as a tummy tuck, liposuction, teeth whitening and even the removal of 'bingo wings'.

Trant was sentenced to 27 months at Plymouth Crown Court after admitting four counts of fraud spanning 13 years. She admitted claiming disability benefits, income support, housing benefit and even council tax benefit.

Allan McColgan, DWP Fraud Manager in the South West said: 'Our fraud investigators have powers to track benefit cheats around the world and bring them before the courts. We are determined to crack down on people who play the system, so that benefits only go to those who really need this help. In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, fraudsters must pay back all the money they falsely obtained and face a criminal record for life. We urge anyone who suspects they know someone that is fraudulently claiming benefits to call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440.'

No doubt puffing out his chest as he gave that quote. They only knew of this long benefit fraud because of a tip off.

Trant pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming benefits over a 13-year period.

A CPS spokesperson said: 'Despite claims that she needed continual supervision, could not walk outdoors in unfamiliar routes without guidance or supervision and being stressed by crowded places, she holidayed in Goa, India, paid for cosmetic surgery and enjoyed horse-riding and socialising in crowds. After several holidays to this idyllic part of India, Karen Trant bought an apartment at the Highland Beach Resort in Candolim in 2004, which extended her stays by up to five months. Back in the UK, her false benefits claims continued.'

The court heard that Trant claimed £32,315.94 in income support, £8,134 in Employment Support Allowance, almost £30,000 in Disability Living Allowance and almost £65,000 in Housing and Council Tax Benefit.

Claire Busby, a lawyer with the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said: 'Karen Trant failed to notify authorities of cash from her divorce settlement in 1999, that she frequently holidayed in Goa and that, in 2004, she had bought an apartment there. Had she done so, she would not have been entitled to the benefits she claimed. The Karen Trant seen confidently riding a horse in the photographs seems a world away from the highly-dependent and anxiety-ridden individual she purported to be to justify her welfare benefits claims. This façade was completely undermined by her extravagant lifestyle, involving repeated lengthy trips to Goa and cosmetic surgery. The benefits system exists to support the most vulnerable in our society and Karen Trant had no entitlement to these benefits. She tried to conceal her wrongdoing, but was brought before the criminal courts and convicted by the jury.'

Calm down, Claire. She wasn't convicted by a jury, it seems she pleaded guilty. And all the DWP apparatus failed to spot her, she was shopped.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I worked for the Appeals service, a man asked for his tribunal to be at his home because of his agoraphobia - his GP gave him a sick note.

However, due to a mix up in the letters on the morning of his appeal, he turned up at the venue where appeals were heard but the tribunal members had all gone to his house.

He turned up by himself.