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27 Oct 2015

Sentencing for benefit fraud

Three people appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on October 14 to face charges of fraud following council investigation.

Rachel Barnes, 44, pleaded guilty to three charges of benefit fraud between November 2012 and July 2014.

Barnes had claimed benefit at her previous address stating she was a single parent with four children. But an investigation showed that she was using a previously undeclared joint bank account with her supposedly estranged husband.

There were a number of other things that linked Mr Barnes to the address and showed they had financial interdependency. Barnes, who was overpaid benefit totalling £20,110.19, received 180 hours community service with a one year community order, and was ordered to pay a contribution of £250 towards the council’s costs and to repay the full amount of overpaid benefit.

Offenders should have to do unpaid work every week until they have repaid the benefit they stole.

Akvile Antanaviciene, 35, pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud between February 2010 and March 2015.

Antanaviciene applied for and received a single person discount after completing an application stating that her partner had died. Following a data matching exercise, an investigation into her claims began and it became apparent that her partner, now husband, was still alive. She was overpaid discount totalling £1,525.08. She received a fine of £500 and was ordered to pay costs of £500 and to repay the discount in full.

A good way to impose a financial penalty which is meaningful in relation to the amount stolen. She should also have to do unpaid work each week until she repays the amount she stole.

Michael Aikman, 71, pleaded guilty to three offences of benefit fraud between January 2012 and March 2015. He was granted benefit following an application where he stated he had retired from work.

In November 2014, an investigation began into his claims as information showed he was still working for a former employer. The investigation showed that Aikman had indeed returned to his former employer less than two months after completing his application for benefit, and that he had failed to declare this change to the council.

Aikman was overpaid benefit totalling £11,470.08 and received a curfew for six months, was ordered to pay a contribution of £250 towards the council’s costs and has made arrangement to clear the overpaid amount.

A light sentence

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