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5 Jan 2017

Black Country benefit fraud

Over £6.5 million worth of benefit fraud was uncovered in the Black Country and South Staffordshire by Department of Work and Pension(DWP) investigators in 2016.

And that did not include minor fiddles, each involving £2,000 or less, which are estimated to have added millions more to the total value of the blitz.

Cases handled by DWP investigators resulted in 182 successful prosecutions while there were also 104 administrative penalties issued.

These allow those involved in frauds of less than £5,000 to avoid going to court by paying back the stolen benefit money with a surcharge of up to half that amount added to the repayment figure.

Almost 1,500 people living in the area were investigated.

So a very low proportion led to penalties.

Officials are also doing more than ever with Proceeds of Crime legislation to claw back the money pocketed by cheats.

People like 67-year-old trickster Thomas Wilkinson from Bournes Hill, Halesowen, who pocketed benefits by claiming to be unable to walk very far as a result of osteoarthritis – while appearing on stage throughout the country at £250-a-time in a Blues Brothers tribute act for seven years before the racket was uncovered. He was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years and was then ordered to repay almost £22,000 within three months or be locked up for seven months.

Scheming mother of two Wendy Robinson, 52, admitted a near £100,000 ten year benefits theft and received an 18 month jail sentence suspended for two years because of her ill health after she appeared at Birmingham Crown Court in a wheelchair. She was among those caught out by a specialist surveillance team recently added to the DWP investigations team in Central England.

Another was 72-year-old conman Paramjit Randhawa, from Goldthorn Park, who pocketed disability living allowance while claiming to be scarcely able to walk 10 metres until pictured striding along a treadmill for 50 minutes during a keep fit session that also included squat thrusts and leg raises, at a gym in Bentley Bridge. He was given eight months in prison suspended for 18 months and later ordered to repay more than £20,000.

There are three DWP offices in the Black Country, where almost £5.2 million frauds were uncovered and one in South Staffordshire where over £1.6 million worth of scams were uncovered.

Source

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