24 Dec 2014

Pensioner jailed for £77k benefits fraud

Richard Denby, from Henley-on-Thames, was branded a ‘consistent fraudster’ and given a 40 week prison sentence after being convicted of five counts of making false statements with a view to obtaining benefits, at Oxford Crown Court.

The prosecution followed a joint prosecution by Cherwell District Council, Cotswold District Council, Waveney District Council and the Department of Work and Pensions’ Fraud Investigation Service.

Between 2000 and 2008, Mr Denby rented various properties across the UK, by posing as a retired army officer with a low income and moderate savings in order to apply for housing and council tax benefits.

Denby consistently failed to declare his ownership of at least four properties in Yorkshire and that he received income from these properties by renting them out to tenants. He also failed to disclose significant investments and savings in excess of the £16,000 limit.

In addition to benefit fraud, Mr Denby intentionally failed to pay his rent either on time or at all and upon leaving or being evicted from each property, would leave an outstanding debt behind him. He would then move to a different district and repeat the same scam.

Mr Denby evaded credit checks at each new address by providing false information to letting agents. Once established in the property, he would then claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit without the knowledge of his landlord.

A private landlord in the Beccles area said: “We were cheated of many hundreds of pounds by this man and hope that publicity over his conviction will encourage other landlords to come forward in the hope they can recover what is owed to them.”

During the investigation, a search of Mr Denby’s property revealed records of overseas bank accounts, share certificates and a property portfolio detailing at least 16 houses in Yorkshire which had never been registered with the Land Registry.

When sentencing Mr Denby on December 5, Judge Zoe Smith took into account his age, a £12,000 repayment he had already made and his lack of previous convictions. However, Judge Smith said that “the claims were fraudulent from the outset and the length of time the fraud was committed was substantial.”

She ordered that Mr Denby would serve at least half of his 40 week prison sentence and that he would repay over £56,000 in compensation to the affected local authorities and the DWP, plus the full costs of the case, which totalled a further £60,000.


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