Showing posts with label Proceeds of crime order. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Proceeds of crime order. Show all posts

19 Aug 2019

Landlord cons council into giving him a home for 10 years

A man cheated Slough Borough Council out of nearly £50,000 after he claimed he needed a house despite actually being a landlord.

Gavin Lescott, 41, was in the process of buying a property with his brother when he applied to be placed on the council's housing register in 2006.

He went on to buy a home in Manor Park, Slough, which he let out to tenants. In the meantime, he accepted a council house to live in in Britwell.

He also failed to declare he owned a property when he applied for benefits in 2017.

Reading Crown Court ordered him to pay £48,000 by October 25, or face 18 months in prison.

This was deemed to be the total criminal benefit from illegally obtaining the tenancy and residing there for more than 10 years.

He has also been ordered to pay full council prosecution costs of £6,816 at the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing on Friday, July 26.

It comes after he admitted three offences under the Fraud Act 2006 for making false representations and failing to disclose information he was legally obliged to disclose, intending to make a gain for himself.

He was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, when he was sentenced for the offences in May at Reading Crown Court.

He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and 10 days of rehabilitation which was aimed at helping him to understand the consequences of his actions and choices.

Lescott agreed to move out of the house in Woodford Way and voluntarily returned the keys to the council at the end of June 2019, which means the council did not have to formally evict him and incur extra civil court costs.

The house is now in the process of being rented out to another family on the council housing register.

Slough Borough Councillor Mohammed Nazir, cabinet member for housing and community safety, said:
We will not tolerate those individuals who seek to defraud the local taxpayer. 
Social and council housing is there to provide much needed homes for our residents, not to generate illicit profits for dishonest tenants. 
The council will continue to take tough action against those unscrupulous individuals who seek to deny vulnerable families a roof over their heads. We will always push for the harshest punishments where we find people defrauding not just the council but the children, families and hard working residents on our housing register.

5 Aug 2019

Benefit cheat caught training dogs at Crufts must pay back almost £11k

A dopey disability benefits cheat who posted pictures on Facebook exhibiting dogs at Crufts has been ordered to pay back almost £11,000 of her ill-gotten gains. (h/t Dave)

Trainer Linda Avery, aged 57, claimed she could hardly walk but was filmed at a later show in Devon grooming and running her charges around rings.

The former mealtime assistant was handed a community order with unpaid work in March.

But she was summonsed back to court as the Department for Work and Pensions sought their money back under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that she had been overpaid £12,538 in Disability Living Allowance over two years.

Judge Paul Darlow ordered her to pay £10,970 over the next three months. Avery could be jailed for seven months if she fails to do so.

The court heard that she had assets assessed as about £78,000, including her share in a home.

Sally Daulton, for the department, said pictures posted on Facebook showing Avery exhibiting at Crufts showed just how long she had been cheating the system.

She said that the defendant had already paid back the balance of the money owed to the department.

Avery claimed she needed a walking aid or sticks to get around and even needed someone to cut up her food, the court heard in March.

But officers from the Department for Work and Pensions secretly filmed her parading, grooming and lifting dogs at a show in Paignton.

Avery, from Efford, admitted dishonestly failing to notify an improvement in her condition affecting her DLA claim between October 2014 and July 2016.

She was handed a 12-month community order with 100 hours unpaid work and 20 days of probation supervision.

Source with pictures

2 Jul 2019

Benefit cheat makes her crime pay

A grandmother who falsely claimed more than £43,000 in benefits and went on holiday has been ordered to pay back a fraction of that sum. (h/t Dave)

Geraldine Thomas was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, in July last year and was back in court on Friday for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.

At her sentencing hearing , Recorder Patrick Harrington QC noted the money was spent on “an expensive holiday”.

The court heard she fraudulently claimed more than £43,000 in benefits over a five-year period.

Prosecutors said she failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Caerphilly council of a change in her circumstances between 2011 and 2016.

She claimed Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction on the basis she was living alone.

But she was actually living with her partner, Raymond Adams, who was contributing to the household income.

During the sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court , the court was told she used the money to fund a number of holidays to destinations such as Egypt for her and her partner.

The DWP and Gwent Police launched an investigation, monitoring Thomas and Mr Adams over a number of years.

They used a “search and seizure” order to enter the defendant’s home and gain evidence.

Thomas, 55, from Bargoed, admitted three counts of benefit fraud.

Kathryn Lane, defending, said her client – a grandmother-of-two – had never been before the courts before.

She said: “[Thomas] foolishly engaged in this offending and is thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed by it. She is a valued and routinely relied and depended-upon family member and a valued member of the community. There have been a number of bereavements of close family members recently which has had an effect on her and she has been picking up the pieces of those closest to her.”

Recorder Harrington said: “No mention has been made of your lifestyle and I know what the money has been spent on. It was spent on an expensive holiday wasn’t it?

“Benefit fraud is rife and costs honest hardworking people a lot of money.”

During the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Cardiff Crown Court , it was found she wrongly gained £43,015.10 from her offending.

She had £6,500 available and was ordered to pay that amount within three months, or risk going to prison for three months.

Source with pictures

17 May 2019

Repeat benefit fraudster must repay ... £10

A bakery worker who creamed off more than £20,000 from her employer has been ordered to pay back just £10 of her ill-gotten gains.

Joan Whitrick, who cooked the books at Just Desserts in Station Road, Shipley, had been told by Judge Colin Burn when she was sentenced in January that the cash would have to be paid back “even if it takes you the rest of your days to do it”.

But yesterday the 58-year-old was ordered to repay just £10 after she assured the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, that she was not “sitting on a fortune or living in a mansion” and that she could afford “£10 and that’s it”.

Whitrick, from Keighley, had been sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 300 hours of unpaid work.

Yesterday, she was back in court for a Proceeds of Crime Application hearing in which the benefit from her criminality was assessed at £21,498.

But the grandmother, who was not legally represented, said she had no available assets with which to meet that bill.

Jonathan Sharp, for the Crown, told the court a nominal sum of £10 should be fixed for repayment.

The court was told by a financial investigator that although Whitrick was sentenced for taking £20,105 from her employer, a “cost of living” increase had racked up her benefit figure to £21,498.

Judge Durham Hall made the confiscation order, telling Whitrick: “I am happy to draw a line under this today. If you win the Pools or the Lottery, a lady like this financial investigator here might come knocking.”

He asked Whitrick if she could afford £10, to which she replied: “£10 and that’s it.”

Judge Durham Hall told her to own up now if she was “sitting on a fortune or living in a mansion somewhere”. “I sometimes get such applications and find they have got 15 houses,” he said.

Whitrick, who told the court she is in work, must pay the £10 within 28 days or risk a day in prison in default.

In January, the court heard how she was an office administrator at the award-winning craft bakery when she stole from it over a two-year period to fund her gambling habit.

She was originally charged with stealing £50,500 from her employer, between May, 2011, and July, 2016, but her plea of guilty to the lesser amount was accepted by the crown following a thorough investigation by financial experts.

Prosecutor Andrew Horton said Whitrick joined the company, that was formed in 1985, in May, 2011.

She failed to tell her employer that she was a convicted benefit cheat who was given a suspended sentence of imprisonment in 2008 for stealing £3,000 while working as a book-keeper at Richmond Upholstery in Keighley.

Mr Horton said that Whitrick’s dishonesty at Just Desserts was revealed by an audit in May 2016. Suspicion fell upon her and her previous convictions were uncovered.

Whitrick took small amounts of cash to put into her bank account. “It was £60 here and £190 there,” Mr Horton told the court.

She “palmed” cash sums from customers and drivers. The sums were marked as “paid” but the company did not receive the money. It was conceded during the sentencing hearing that Whitrick had a serious gambling problem, losing £21,273 during her time at Just Desserts.

After she was dismissed, she texted her bosses to say sorry and to ask them to keep the police out of the matter. She also pledged to pay back the money.

A report from the firm, that employs 25 people, said it had continued to trade profitably but the theft had forced it to tighten up on pay rises and bonuses.

Imran Khan, Whitrick’s barrister, said she was now working as a sales manager for a different company and had earned promotion in the role.

As well as a suspended sentence and unpaid work, Whitrick was ordered to attend a thinking skills course, which is designed to help offenders learn how to stay out of trouble and is made up of 15 two-hour-long sessions.

Just Desserts declined to comment on yesterday’s proceedings, of which they had not been aware until alerted by the Telegraph & Argus.

Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said the case was “tragic for all those concerned”.

He said: “It is terrible for the company, and they must feel aggrieved they will never see this money again. It is not a victimless crime, thefts like this and stealing such sums can bankrupt a business or mean they have to lay off staff. I’m sure this has been a kick in the teeth for the company, but this is tragic for all concerned. Her addiction is clearly a massive issue for her and her family and she needs to get treatment to make sure it doesn’t happen again, that is the most important thing.

“Whether that should be in prison is hard to say without knowing the facts.”

If a POCA confiscation order is made for someone to pay back the nominal £10 amount, financial investigators can pursue them for any windfall they receive in the future - hence Judge Durham Hall’s reference to winning the Pools or the Lottery.

The Crown Prosecution Service states that: “If the value of the defendant’s available amount is less than the benefit from his/her offending and it is subsequently discovered that he/she has further realisable assets, a prosecutor can apply to the Crown Court for an increase in the amount of the confiscation order.”

Source with picture

19 Feb 2019

Benefit fraudster told to sell fish

A benefit cheat pictured up a tree and on a zipwire while claiming he could barely walk has been told he must sell his Koi carp and coin collection to pay back money he fraudulently claimed.

Paul Stevens, 70, and wife Alexandra, 49, were both handed suspended sentences last year after they exaggerated Mr Stevens’ claims for Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.

The couple, who had denied the offences but were convicted by a jury, told the Department for Work and Pensions Mr Stevens needed help bathing, cooking, getting dressed and claimed he could not walk for long distances.

However, images shown at the trial showed Mr Stevens enjoying himself on a zipwire, helping prune a tree using a saw and working in the front garden of the couple’s home in Clacton.

Mrs Stevens had previously worked as a a benefits fraud investigator and then a tax fraud investigator and in 2015 began helping her husband cut corners to earn extra money.

The pair were back at Chelmsford Crown Court for a proceeds of crime hearing where it was revealed Mr Stevens’ benefit figure - the amount the Crown Prosecution Service allege he has obtained as a result of criminal conduct - is £45,000 while Mrs Stevens’ is close to £17,000.

However, the figures do not include money which they were legally entitled to after Mr Stevens was injured at work. He began claiming disability benefits in 1995 for conditions including a degenerative bone disease.

John Livingston, prosecuting, said Mr Stevens had assets of £13,000 which does not include any equity in property, a coin collection estimated to be worth £10,000 and a shoal of Koi carp which were likely valued at £3,000.

There are also issues over the ownership of the marital home which is believed to be solely in Mrs Stevens’ name.

Mr Livingston alleged their home has increased in value by £13,900 since they bought it using fraudulently gained cash giving them a pecuniary advantage.

Judge David Turner QC urged Mr Stevens to get his collections valued “pretty darn quickly” ahead of a hearing in April which will determine how much the pair have to pay back.

He urged parties to come to an arrangement quickly about the amount owed so it could be resolved.

He added: “The last thing I want is more public money to be spent than the amount which is actually recovered. This has got to be resolved. The jurisdiction must be based in reality.”

Mr Stevens was jailed for nine months suspended for two years after being convicted of failing to notify a change of circumstances and of making dishonest representation to obtain benefit.

Mrs Stevens was handed a four month suspended term for dishonest representation to obtain benefit.


12 Feb 2019

Jailed benefit fraudster ordered to repay £47k

A Rosyth woman has been ordered to pay back more than £47,000 after being convicted of benefit fraud.

Toni Claughan fraudulently claimed tax credit and child tax credit over a five-year-period at her home in Burnside Crescent.

The 48-year-old told HM Revenue and Customs she lived alone with her dependent children between February 2011 and December 2016.

But Claughan was actually living with, and being supported by, her husband at the time.

She was found guilty of falsely claiming £89,915 following a trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

She was jailed for 18 months on January 8.

The Crown Office launched a proceeds of crime action against Claughan, who has now been ordered to pay back a total of £47,811.

The Crown will seize money and assets secured by Claughan in the future.

Procurator fiscal for specialist casework, Jennifer Harrower, said: “This should serve as a warning to anyone involved in fraudulently claiming benefits – we will not stop at prosecution. Even after a conviction is secured, we will continue to use the Proceeds of Crime legislation to ensure that funds obtained through benefit fraud are confiscated from those who do not deserve them.

“The funds recovered from Claughan will be added to those already gathered from Proceeds of Crime, to be re-invested in the community by Scottish Ministers through the CashBack for Communities programme.”


28 Aug 2018

I won't headline the obvious pun

Derbyshire Dales District Council has successfully recovered a housing benefit overpayment of £9,878 from a notorious serial fraudster who used to live in Steep Turnpike.

Emma Bent was jailed in February 2016 for two and a half years, and ordered to pay £75,806.41 for benefit fraud against Derbyshire Dales and Amber Valley councils and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Derbyshire Dales Benefits Service subsequently applied to the courts under the Proceeds of Crime Act to have her assets seized and sold in order to recover the overpayment - and the money has now been paid to the council.

A spokesperson for the council said: “This is excellent news for the local taxpayer and once again demonstrates the outstanding partnership arrangements that exist between the council and the Department for Work & Pensions, the Crown Prosecution Services and the courts. We claimed a 40 per cent subsidy on the recovery of the overpayments, so in effect we have received £13,829 as a successful recovery outcome.”

The benefit fraud was discovered years after Bent was jailed in 2011 when her pet cremation business was found to be dumping animals’ bodies rather than delivering the services customers had paid for. At the time, she had concealed her earnings and assets but police were eventually able to untangle her web of deceit.

Ms Bent, last reported to be living in Anglesey, was jailed again in July this year after being caught stealing cash from the tills while working at Greggs in Matlock.

Source with picture

27 Jul 2018

Judge orders benefit cheat to pay over £19,000

A Suffolk benefit cheat has been ordered by a judge to hand over more than £19,000.

Stephen Thorne, 57, from Preston St Mary, was handed a suspended prison sentence in April after admitting submitting false claims.

He had failed to reveal that he was part owner of a property at Horsey in Norfolk when he submitted claims for Job Seekers Allowance and Income Support over a 10 year period starting in 2002.

The prosecution said the claims had never been genuine and were fraudulent from the outset.

Thorne has returned to Ipswich Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing designed to recoup as much as possible of what he gained from his offending - which specialist financial investigators found to total £19,233.

The same investigation revealed that self-employed computer programmer Thorne had assets allowing him to pay the full amount.

Thorne was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months. Judge Goodin also made an order requiring him to forfeit £19,233 within the next three months or have nine months added to his sentence.

When Thorne appeared in court in April, Judge Goodin was told that Thorne had made full admissions about what he had done when interviewed by officials from the Department of Work and Pensions in late 2016.

Thorne told investigators: "It is a relief. I've been worried about it for a long time."

Thorne said the property in Norfolk had been jointly owned with his late partner but he would not be receiving her share of the proceeds when it was sold.

He added: "I have no intention of ever doing anything wrong again."

Thorne had pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation to gain Income Support, failed to disclose that he has assets when claiming Job Seekers Allowance and obtained a money transfer from the DWP by deception.

Sentencing, Judge Goodin told Thorne: "This was a long period of dishonesty. It was fraudulent from the outset."

In addition, Judge Goodin said Thorne would be required to participate in a 30 day rehabilitation activity programme and complete 150 hours of unpaid community work.


11 Jun 2018

£35k benefit fraudster ordered to repay the full amount

A man who committed a £35,000 benefit fraud on his return from a life in Spain has failed in his bid to reduce the amount he must pay back.

Michael Dugdale, 69, was previously handed two suspended prison sentences and ordered to fully repay the wrongfully claimed cash, after a court heard he failed to declare that he owned half a property in Mazarron, Murcia.

DWP fraud teams based in the UK and Spain launched an investigation into his claim after an anonymous tip off.

At the time Dugdale admitted two counts of benefit fraud, stating his dire economic situation on his return to the UK from Spain in 2007 had left him no choice but to make a bogus claim for a benefit he knew he was not entitled to. Upon his return to the country, the father-of-one, who grew up in Ribbleton, Preston, and attended Ribbleton Hall High School, failed to declare his share of the Spanish property when making a claim for Pension Credit in 2007.

He was ordered to repay the funds in full at a subsequent Proceeds of Crime Act hearing or face imprisonment. He launched a bid at Preston Crown Court to vary the order on the basis he no longer has the assets. It is understood he claims to have spent all but £15,000 of his £46,000 share of a house in Spain on more pressing debts.

Judge Philip Parry refused his application.


19 Apr 2018

Sisters jailed for social housing frauds

A shamed council housing officer who pretended to be homeless as she scammed her employer has been ordered to repay £20,000. (h/t Tenancy Fraud)

Zara Danyaal used fake IDs to blag her way into three council tenancies - denying homes to those in genuine need.

She carried out the fraud whilst working as a senior housing needs officer for Birmingham City Council .

But Danyaal was rumbled when the council began a probe.

She was later sacked and, in June 2016, jailed for two-and-a-half years at Birmingham Crown Court for one charge relating to social housing fraud and a further six months for two offences relating to job references.

Now Danyaal, 38, from Acocks Green, has been ordered to repay £20,000 in compensation to her former employers under a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.

Her sister, Samara Malik, 28, also from Acocks Green, was involved in the scam and was jailed for ten months for an offence of social housing fraud,

Robert James, director of housing at Birmingham City Council, said: “We welcome this hearing result which recognises the severity of the crime committed. The act of fraud prevented several families from being housed and since discovering these actions, Birmingham City Council has been proactive from the start in pursuing and bringing the perpetrators to justice. The compensation now received will be reinvested by the council to prevent further acts of fraud from being committed.”

He said the authority was committed to protecting the public funds.

“It is imperative that losses from fraud and corruption are, where possible, eradicated to ensure that resources are used to provide essential services for citizens. Our counter fraud team uses sophisticated data analysis to detect fraud and anyone who commits, or attempts to commit, fraudulent or corrupt acts against the council will be held to account in a decisive manner.”


10 Apr 2018

Benefits cheat must pay back £25,000

A mum who swindled £25,000 in benefits must pay back the cash or face a year in prison.

Dishonest Janet Trewin, aged 55, carried on pocketing money for three and a half years even though she was sharing a home with a working partner.

She walked free with unpaid work but was brought back to court under the Proceeds of Crime Act so prosecutors could seize her ill-gotten gains.

Michael Brown, for the Department for Work and Pensions, said that she had falsely claimed £24,999. But the amount she must pay back has been increased to £26,434 to take into account inflation.

Mr Brown added that it was agreed that Trewin’s assets – her interest in a property – amounted to £97,876.

Judge James Townsend ordered that she pay back £26,434 within three months and set a default period in jail of 12 months.

Ali Rafati, for Trewin, said his client had already started paying back the money to the DWP – which will be deducted from the final total. He told an earlier hearing that she might have to sell the property to raise the cash.

Trewin pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false claim for Employment Support Allowance between August 2012 and January 2016.

She failed to tell the authorities she was living with her working partner, Dennis Blyth.

Trewin had been due to face trial but changed her plea in the face of the jury last November.

The court heard she in the end “let slip” she was living with a man and her children during an interview with investigators.

Mr Rafati told an earlier hearing that Mr Blyth, who had been in her life for a decade, had now left her.

Source with picture

9 Apr 2018

A £500k benefit cheat caught dancing to Michael Jackson while claiming she was heavily disabled has been ordered to repay £190,000 - or face extra jail time.

Maribel Milligan, 54, was jailed for three years at Teesside Crown Court in February last year after claiming £539,000 in benefits over 11 years.

She claimed she could only use one arm, but police found she had turned the top floor of her home into a massage parlour.

She was also captured on film dancing to Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’.

And despite claiming hardship, she had homes dotted around the country - including pads in her native Venezuela.

Teesside Crown Court heard that her “laughable” excuses for the deception were so far-fetched they sparked giggling from jurors during her week-long trial.

Following sentencing, Milligan’s case was passed to the CPS Proceeds of Crime team.

After a lengthy investigation, she has now been told that she must repay a total of £189,725.33.

She was ordered to pay the full amount within six months or would be given a further prison sentence of three years.

Adrian Phillips, from the CPS, said: “Milligan lied for 11 years to fraudulently claim benefits. The Proceeds of Crime team ensured these assets, along with cash in her bank accounts, were restrained so the money could be returned to the public purse. The CPS will continue to work to ensure criminals like Milligan will not benefit from the funds made during their crimes.”

Teesside Crown Court heard the 53-year-old lived a “lavish” lifestyle, with prosecution pictures showing her outside the Eiffel Tower and dancing at a glittering wedding ceremony.

Milligan, of West Cornforth, County Durham, who illegally claimed seven different types of benefit, was also caught splashing in the sea and riding a bike.

Source with picture

12 Mar 2018

Jail for £65k benefit fraudster after slow investigation

A man who claimed he was so incapacitated he couldn’t put his own socks on was in fact working as a builder and kitchen fitter, a court has heard.

Over a period of six years Keith Webster fraudulently claimed more than £65,000 in benefits, including disability living allowance and income support.

Swansea Crown Court heard that at one stage Webster had more than £60,000 in savings in the bank, and was working as a handyman and second-hand car dealer while still claiming benefits.

Sending him to prison, a judge told the 59-year-old that in the current difficult economic times, the welfare system was there for people who genuinely needed help.

Eugene Egan, prosecuting, said that over the course of six years Webster claimed council tax and housing benefit, employment support allowance, income support and disability living allowance totalling some £65,424.88.

The claims were made on the basis that he was unable to work, had little in the way of savings, and needed help with day-to-day chores such as cleaning and shopping.

The court heard he claimed he could not walk more than 40 yards due to his physical ailments, and was not able to put his own socks on.

However, an undercover surveillance team for the Department of Work and Pensions caught him on camera actually running his own home-improvement business, KW Installations, and working as a handyman and builder.

The footage was from April 2016 - nearly two years ago.

When interviewed under caution by investigators, he admitted the scam, saying he was “bang to rights”.

The prosecutor said bank records subsequently showed Webster regularly had savings “well over” the £16,000 benefit claim limit, and on occasions his capital was in excess of £60,000.

Webster, from Waunarlwydd, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to six counts of dishonestly failing to notify the authorities about a change of circumstance when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

Mark Davies, for Webster, said his client had suffered a fall in 1995 which led to a degenerative back condition, and an initially legitimate claim for benefits. However, he said his client accepted the claim had later become dishonest, and he was remorseful for his actions.

The advocate added that while some members of the defendant’s family supported him, others had not spoken to him since reading about his fraudulent activities in the South Wales Evening Post.

The court heard Webster was currently repaying the benefits he wrongly claimed, and had so far paid back some £5,000.

Judge Christopher Clee QC told Webster: “This was thoroughly dishonest behaviour committed over a significant period of time. The reality is, you worked as a self-employed builder, and bought and sold cars. In these difficult times the benefit system is there for people who need it - not for people like you. Those who claim benefits over a significant period of time to which they are not entitled must expect prison.”

The judge said the starting point for the offences was 18 months custody - giving Webster credit for his guilty plea, that was reduced to 12 months, half of which he will serve in prison before being released.

The CPS said that at the time of his arrest Webster had more than £33,000 in the bank.

Hywel Rees, of the CPS, said: “Keith Webster fabricated a spinal injury to claim more than £65,000 in benefits. Despite his claims that he struggled day to day, he was found to be running a building business.  The CPS presented evidence which included CCTV of Webster lifting items in and out of his work van and carrying out tasks with ease, leading Webster to plead guilty.”

A timetable was set out for action to recover the outstanding money via Proceeds of Crime Act measures.

Source with pictures

12 Feb 2018

Benefit cheat ordered to pay back £16,660

A 51-year-old benefit cheat who was overpaid £26,000 has been ordered to pay a £16,660 confiscation order.

Before Ipswich Crown Court was Dale Sunderland, 51, who pleaded guilty last year to two offences of making a false statement to obtain benefit dating back to 2012.

The total overpayment over 197 weeks was £26,275.

He was sentenced to a six month supervision order in July last year.

He has now returned to court for a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Stephen Mather, prosecuting, said Sunderland’s criminal benefit from his offending was £25,505 and the available amount was £16,600.

Judge David Goodin ordered Sunderland to pay a £16,600 confiscation order of which £14,725 will be paid as compensation to Ipswich Borough Council.

At Sunderland’s sentencing hearing the court heard that he had claimed he had around £10,000 in bank accounts and premium bonds when his total capital was £34,592.


9 Nov 2017

Proceeds of Crime order will be sought against benefit fraudster

A benefits cheat faces having some of his belongings confiscated.

Craig Clancy admitted benefit fraud totalling £20,000 when he appeared at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court.

The charge relates to the 41-year-old’s claim for Employment Support Allowance between April 2014 and March 2016.

He was living at an address in Ainley Top at the time but dishonestly failed to tell the DWP about a change in his circumstances affecting his entitlement to the benefit.

Prosecutor Vanessa Jones told the Huddersfield court that Clancy failed to disclose that he had two jobs. She explained that this resulted in an overpayment of just over £20,000 to him.

Mrs Jones asked magistrates to commit his case to Leeds Crown Court for sentencing. She explained: “It would normally be within your powers to deal with it. But on this occasion I invite you to commit him for sentencing as, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, there will be an application for confiscation proceedings.”

A judge can make a confiscation order to deprive the defendant of a benefit he or she has obtained through criminal conduct.

Clancy was committed for sentencing to Leeds Crown Court. He will appear there on November 28 and, as he has no previous convictions, a probation report will be prepared on the day of his hearing.


1 Nov 2017

Another asset benefit fraud

A benefit cheat who falsely claimed disability living allowance has been ordered to pay back £44,000 or face jail.

Andrew Robert Howarth, from Rawtenstall, pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to benefit fraud and was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

At a proceeds of crime hearing this week, prosecutor Anthony Stephenson told the court that the 50-year-old wrongly claimed £44,893.25.

The court heard how the defendant had £144,710.92 in ‘available assets’ including two houses, a small ISA and a savings account.

Mr Stephenson said Howarth has ‘already started to make some payments back’.

Howarth was ordered to pay the remaining sum of £43,473.95 in the next three months or face nine months in jail in default.

Judge Ian Leeming QC told Howarth: “If you find it impossible to pay then you can come back to court and apply for an extension, but that would depend on its merits.”


Assets benefit frauds

The reports of benefit frauds are stacking up, so here are two reports of the same type of fraud. Most benefits are means tested, but these offenders' means made them ineligible for those benefits. Which they claimed anyway.

We call these "assets benefit frauds". This blog's view is that these people should be charged twice as much as they stole. The money obviously matters to them, so hit them where it hurts.

A benefit cheat who claimed nearly £10,000 in benefits she was not entitled to has been ordered to repay the money.

Diane Cornes pleaded guilty to three offences of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for herself.

The 62-year-old, from Burslem, was last month sentenced to a 12-month community order with a rehabilitation activity requirement for 20 days and an eight-week curfew from 8pm to 6am. Now Judge Jinder Singh Boora has ruled that Cornes benefited from her criminality by £9,866.89 and has so far repaid £464.96 leaving £9,401.93 outstanding.

He ordered that sum to be paid under the Proceeds of Crime Act in three months or she will serve six months in prison in default.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Cornes made a claim for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) in February 2013 and stated she had £2,550 in the bank, when she had at least £25,000. And she continued to claim benefits until December 2015 despite, at one stage, having £80,000 in the bank and never having less than £30,000.

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A benefits cheat who dishonestly claimed more than £30,000 had more than £50,000 in his bank account after receiving money from an inheritance.

Constantino Fenu, 63, was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of benefit fraud on the first day of his trial.

The court heard that Fenu, from Cardiff , received benefits he was not entitled to including housing benefit, council tax benefit, and jobseekers’ allowance between 2009 and 2011.

The defendant had failed to notify Cardiff council and the DWP that he had received an inheritance which meant he was no longer entitled to receive benefits.

During this time Fenu had up to £53,000 sitting in his bank account and the lowest amount in his account was £26,000.

When his fraud was uncovered by the council and DWP Fenu had illegally benefited to the tune of £33,633.

In his police interview he admitted he had not been entirely truthful but he denied being guilty of the offences, claiming he did not understand the paperwork.

He was due to stand trial but changed his plea to guilty before the trial could begin. The defendant is now paying £200 a month and has paid back almost £20,000 of the amount he claimed illegally. He has taken up a temporary job as a postman for Royal Mail during the Christmas period.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said: “You have by a cat’s whisker avoided an immediate custodial sentence. You knew the amount of inheritance you received would affect the amount of benefit you were entitled to. You are an intelligent man so don’t be so stupid in future.”

Fenu was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.


3 Oct 2017

Proceeds of crime order for benefit fraud conwoman

A benefits cheat who conned grieving pet owners out of thousands of pounds has been ordered to pay back more than £75,000.

Emma Bent was jailed for eight months in 2011 after it emerged she had pocketed cash given to her to give dogs and cats a proper cremation, before dumping their bodies in a field. When she was found out, police calculated her earnings as £88,000 - but she claimed she only had £3,100, which she was ordered to pay to the court.

The 42-year-old, from Steep Turnpike, Derbyshire, was then jailed for two-and-a-half years in February 2016 for money laundering and benefit fraud after it was found she had lied about her assets in the original investigation.

Bent had wrongly claimed for housing and council tax benefit as well as income support.

Now, following a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Derby Crown Court, she has been told she has just three months to pay the £75,806.41 or face another jail term.

Judge Nirmal Shant QC said: 'It is right to say that previously £3,100 was the available amount to be paid back. But based on a statement it is now accepted that the information given was false. The benefit now declared is £75,806.41 and the available amount is the same figure. The compensation will be paid to the Department of Work and Pensions £33,449.48; Amber Valley Borough Council - 32,478.47; and Derbyshire Dales District Council - £9,878.46. You have three months to pay.'

At the February 2016 hearing, Derby Crown Court heard police found Bent had been lying about property she owned and how much she earned so she could pocket more than £90,000 in benefits between 2004 and 2012.

They found she had put properties in the name of her mother, Sonia Lomas, and some of her housing benefit was transferred into Lomas' bank account.

In court, Bent admitted fraudulently claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit; forging a rent book, a letter and a tenancy agreement; concealing criminal property and perverting the course of justice.

Sentencing Bent at the time, Judge Shant QC said: 'You are, or certainly have been in the past, a thoroughly dishonest young woman. For a long period of time you obtained benefits that you were not entitled to.'

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing this week said Bent owns land in Matlock, Derbyshire, as well as 75% of the house where she lives in Steep Turnpike. The other 25% is owned by her husband, Nigel Bent.


8 Sep 2017

Undeserving benefit cheat ordered to repay nearly £27k

A grasping divorcee who claimed benefit payments despite receiving a settlement of more than £250,000 has been ordered to pay back every penny.

And Assa Brown was told by a judge at Warwick Crown Court she is facing eight months in jail if she does not pay a total of £26,642 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Earlier this year the 50 year-old was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to failing to notify a change in circumstances and making false statements to obtain benefits.

Over a period of four years Brown, of Wordsworth Avenue, Warwick, claimed a total of just over £27,000 in housing and council tax benefits and jobseeker’s allowance.

When she was sentenced a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an investigation into her finances. And at the resumed hearing prosecutor Henry Skudra said it had been calculated that Brown’s benefit from her dishonesty had been £26,642 – and she had assets worth £325,355.

So Judge Andrew Lockhart QC ordered the confiscation of £26,642 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with £21,731 of it being paid in compensation to Warwick District Council. The judge, who imposed an eight-month prison sentence in default of payment, also ordered Brown to pay £800 costs.

During the original hearing Mr Skudra said Brown had claimed housing and council tax benefits from October 2010, having said she was single and had a child in the household.

But she failed to declare she owned another property, bought with funds from her divorce settlement, or that she had an income from it.

Mr Skudra said when Brown, who has a law degree, first made her claim for housing and council tax benefit, it was legitimate – but it became fraudulent just a month later when she received the divorce settlement. And two false declarations she later made for jobseeker’s allowance were fraudulent from the outset.

Amiee Parkes, defending, had said: “What triggered this is an acrimonious divorce from her partner. When she first made this claim it wasn’t fraudulent, and she was advised to make it by the domestic violence unit. She didn’t know she was going to get the sum of money she did, but accepts she did not declare that or the property in Kingston-upon-Thames bought from the proceeds of the divorce.”

Miss Parkes said Brown had repaid a total of £4,640 and was having £3.70 a week stopped from benefits she still received.

Why is this a good use of money from taxpayers, many of them poorer than her?

Judge Lockhart commented: “I’d have been more impressed if she had repaid it all. She is a woman who is no doubt still sitting on enormous assets.”


3 May 2017

Proceeds of Crime order after disability benefit fraud

A woman who falsely claimed more than £27,000 has been forced to take out a £20,000 loan to pay most of the money back, a court has heard.

Barbara Fulwood, who was given a suspended jail sentence after admitting benefit fraud, received the cash on the basis that she needed help to do her shopping, ironing and cleaning. But she later started working as a housekeeper at a local care home without notifying the DWP of the change in her condition that meant she could work.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was told that she had benefited from her crimes by £27,155 but has repaid back £605 to the DWP. The court heard that she has available assets of £178,000, the majority of which is the equity in her home.

Judge Simon Hirst ordered that the outstanding amount of £26,550 should be confiscated from her. She was given three months to hand over the money.

David Eager, for Fulwood, said she has already raised £20,000 after taking out a loan against her property. He said she could pay that money immediately and is looking to raise the rest from friends and family.

When Fulwood was originally sentenced earlier this year Miss Edna Leonard, prosecuting, said she had initially made a legitimate claim for disability living allowance which was granted in 1995 due to mobility problems and other health issues.

Miss Leonard said: "The claim was legitimate at the outset but that changed when the defendant began working in May 2007. She was under a duty to notify the authorities of any change in her condition and failed to do so."

Fulwood, 62, from Marton, near Gainsborough, admitted a charge of fraud between May 9, 2007 and June 16, 2015. She was given a four-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months and a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

David Eager, for Fulwood, said: "She has let herself down. She knows what she has done is wrong. She is not someone who is swinging the lead. She has a number of health problems. She raised her children and they left home and so she was at a loose end and took up the employment. The amount of benefit she was receiving was not a living amount. She could barely survive."