14 Oct 2014

Benefit fraud as a family affair

A family of fraudsters have been sentenced for their part in a £90,000 benefit fraud case.

Mother Alison Parfitt, 48, her husband Jason Parfitt, 47, of Sycamore Avenue, Tredegar, and pregnant daughter Gemma Parfitt, 27, of Laburnum Avenue, also Tredegar, were each jailed at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday after seven years of benefit fraud.

Alison Parfitt got an eight-month sentence; Jason Parfitt and Gemma Parfitt seven months each. Stewart Parfitt, 29, of Waundeg, Tredegar, son of Alison and Jason, was given a seven-month suspended sentence for 18 months for falsely claiming £28,000.

The foursome, along with Gemma Parfitt’s partner, Wayne Rees, also of Laburnum Avenue, Tredegar, pleaded guilty to fraud charges on September 5 after being caught following an anonymous tip-off to the Department of Work and Pensions last year.

Rees was given a community order of 14 hours of unpaid work after he claimed jobseekers’ allowance while in employment.

Husband and wife Alison and Jason Parfitt had told the Department of Work and Pensions they were living apart despite sharing a house on Sycamore Avenue.

Between 2006 and 2013 Alison Parfitt received more than £26,000 in income support, housing benefit and council tax rebates thanks to the pair providing false addresses and claiming they were separated, the court heard.

A seize and search raid by the DWP and Gwent Police in March last year discovered the couple at the property, as well as joint credit cards and a joint tenancy.

Daughter Gemma Parfitt, who suffers from epilepsy, also masqueraded as a single person to claim more than £38,000, despite living with partner Wayne Rees.

In police interviews last year, Parfitt, who appeared in court 19 weeks pregnant, denied knowing who the father was and said Rees was just a friend.

A police seize and search operation later found family photos, joint Christmas and birthday cards, financial documents and loan details, all which proved the couple were in a relationship.

Recorder Jonathan Furness QC said: “One of the things that horrifies me is that various members of the family denied paternity of their child in order to further the scheme.I have to sentence five members of the family for a total of 16 offences between them which effectively related to the obtaining of benefits by making false representations. The amount of money which has been obtained by the family as a whole must approach somewhere between £90,000 and £100,000.”

More including pictures

This shows
  1. How easy it is to cheat the benefit fraud system for years

  2. How difficult detection is - this investigation was only started following an anonymous tip-off

  3. How slow the process is and how many hours of officials' time even one case takes.
There's no scope for pro-active detection on the scale needed - benefit fraud officials would be quite overwhelmed. A hopeless case.

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