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10 Oct 2014

Mental problems bring benefit thief light sentence

A benefits cheat changed his name at least 17 times to claim £47,000 in benefits while earning thousands as a lorry driver.

Finn Harvey Schneider, whose other names included Rai River Croft and Zachary Caleb Maxillian, was said to live in a “fantasy world”.

He also amended the names on his driving licence more than a dozen times to commit the “sophisticated” frauds. The 47-year-old would claim benefits in one name but work full-time for a variety of businesses in Leicestershire in other names.

Leicester Crown Court was told Schneider was suffering from mental problems, including a personality disorder, which could have contributed to his criminal behaviour. His original name is believed to have been Raymond Fairclough.

The defendant pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue out of £42,042 by fraudulently claiming a variety of benefits by using false names, between March 2007 and October 2012. The benefits included a carer’s allowance, job seekers’ allowance, disability living allowance, social fund payments and incapacity benefit. He also admitted failing to notify Oadby and Wigston Borough Council of a change in circumstances, when claiming housing and council tax benefits, totalling £5,088, between April 2009 and October 2012.

He was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with supervision.

The court heard that since his arrest, Schneider had changed his name yet again, to Rai River Croft.

Judge Nicholas Dean QC said
:It seems to some extent you live in a fantasy world relating to your identity. I don’t know if you’re pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes or not, or whether in truth you suffered abuse in childhood, or suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or other disorders, as referred to in the psychiatric report, such as depression and anxiety. It would be inappropriate for me to make a finding that the psychiatric report is wrong. During the period of the charges you were a persistent and really a rather sophisticated fraudster who managed to obtain over £40,000 in benefits you weren’t entitled to. It may be part of your offending is a product of your personality disorder; a product of the person you are, rather than calculated criminality - it’s very hard to say.
Simon Worlock, prosecuting, said: “The Crown traced 17 different names having been used, but not all of those were done during the period of offending. He obtained changes in names on driving licences and got new National Insurance numbers.”

An example of Schneider’s duplicity was in 2009, when he claimed disability living allowance on the basis he was suffering from depression, was awaiting a hip operation, was liable to self-harm, suffered panic attacks and needed a full-time carer, but was also working.

In 2010, he was earning various amounts from a few hundred pounds up to more than £1,000 a week in short-term jobs.

Olwen Davies, mitigating, said Schneider’s mental health issues “go back a long time”, prior to the offending. “His change of names is accounted for by his psychiatric illness,” she said. “He’s suffered poetic justice as officials will only deal with him in his original name of Fairclough, and he no longer has those papers and can’t claim benefits.”

She said he was subject to a “refund system” which means he would be repaying the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) until 2050.

The judge placed Schneider on a Financial Reporting Order, under the 2005 Serious Organised Crime Police Act, for 10 years. It means he must report annually to an officer of the DWP with full details of his income, current P45 or P60 and evidence of his name and address.

More, including a list of names he is known to have used

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Always baffles me when someone can get Carers Allowance AND DLA.

Do the Doctors who gave him sick notes, explain how he could be working as well? Of course not, they will reply, we are not her to police the benefit system.