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Showing posts with label abroad fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label abroad fraud. Show all posts

14 Feb 2019

Facebook postings derailed claims in Spain

A benefits cheat swindled over £46,000 of housing handouts — while boasting of her Spanish property business on Facebook.

Louise Jones, 50, was claiming UK disability benefits for nearly a decade despite living in Spain.

She was also claiming housing benefits for a property in Victoria Dock, Hull, alongside one in nearby Cleethorpes.

Both were owned by her husband, Bruce McHardy — but the couple were at that time living near Alicante, in Spain.

In total, Jones illegally claimed a staggering £46,000 between 2007 and 2016.

But Exeter Crown Court heard how Jones caught herself out after she posted pictures of her wedding to Mr McHardy, a property developer, on social media.

With photos on her Facebook page of her engagement to Mr McHardy in 2015 and her wedding in July 2017, she also described herself as managing director of his Spanish property business, McHardy Spanish Properties.

Jones' Linkedin page also listed her as the managing director of another property venture, Blanca Sales and Rentals.

She admitted eight counts of benefit fraud and was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, by Judge Peter Johnson. He also set a timetable for the seizure of any remaining assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard that Jones was in a "controlling" relationship and that the couple's marriage was short-lived, with Mr McHardy leaving her as soon as her benefits cash dried up.

She had to move back to her family in Devon and face the music.

The judge told her: "You were a person of good character but that has been blown away. This was dishonesty of a high order which represents a deeply entrenched course of dishonesty on your part.

"You claimed housing benefit on two properties where you said you were living when you clearly were not. I accept you were perhaps in thrall to a controlling individual in a relationship which came to an end as a result of the cessation of these benefits."

Miss Sally Daulton, prosecuting, said Jones claimed a total of £46,867.14 in disability and housing benefits and employment support allowance.

She also claimed another £33,000 in severe disability allowance, but was entitled to claim that even when living in Spain.

Checks showed she had spent more than half of each year abroad and Facebook posts recorded her relationship with Mr McHardy.

She made full admissions, has never been in trouble before, and medical notes showed she did suffer from arthritis and depression and would have been entitled to claim benefits in Britain.

Source with pictures

22 Jan 2019

Suspended sentence for £46k benefit fraud

A benefits cheat swindled over £46,000 of housing handouts — while boasting of her Spanish property business on Facebook.

Louise Jones, 50, was claiming UK disability benefits for nearly a decade despite living in Spain.

She was also claiming housing benefits for a property in Victoria Dock, Hull, alongside one in nearby Cleethorpes. Both were owned by her husband, Bruce McHardy — but the couple were at that time living near Alicante, in Spain.

In total, Jones illegally claimed a staggering £46,000 between 2007 and 2016.

But Exeter Crown Court heard how Jones caught herself out after she posted pictures of her wedding to Mr McHardy, a property developer, on social media.

With photos on her Facebook page of her engagement to Mr McHardy in 2015 and her wedding in July 2017, she also described herself as managing director of his Spanish property business, McHardy Spanish Properties.

Jones' Linkedin page also listed her as the managing director of another property venture, Blanca Sales and Rentals.

She admitted eight counts of benefit fraud and was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, by Judge Peter Johnson. He also set a timetable for the seizure of any remaining assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court heard that Jones was in a "controlling" relationship and that the couple's marriage was short-lived, with Mr McHardy leaving her as soon as her benefits cash dried up.

She had to move back to her family in Devon and face the music.

The judge told her: "You were a person of good character but that has been blown away. This was dishonesty of a high order which represents a deeply entrenched course of dishonesty on your part. You claimed housing benefit on two properties where you said you were living when you clearly were not. I accept you were perhaps in thrall to a controlling individual in a relationship which came to an end as a result of the cessation of these benefits."

Miss Sally Daulton, prosecuting, said Jones claimed a total of £46,867.14 in disability and housing benefits and employment support allowance.

She also claimed another £33,000 in severe disability allowance, but was entitled to claim that even when living in Spain.

Checks showed she had spent more than half of each year abroad and Facebook posts recorded her relationship with Mr McHardy.

She made full admissions, has never been in trouble before, and medical notes showed she did suffer from arthritis and depression and would have been entitled to claim benefits in Britain.

Source with pictures

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.

Source

17 Dec 2017

Immigrant benefit thief stole £38,000

A Somali refugee scammed nearly £39,000 in benefits after secretly returning home because he missed the sunshine.

Mohamed Qoomaal, 72, claimed asylum here 15 years ago claiming he feared for his life in his native country. But in 2013 he sneaked back to Somalia and had his pension credit payments wired to him there. He also let a friend live rent-free in his council-funded flat in Harrow, North West London.

The fraud came to light only when DWP investigators wrote to his Harrow address asking to see him.

Qoomaal’s pal alerted him and he returned from his home in Jidhi to meet with them early last year. He tried to hoodwink investigators with a fake immigration stamp on his passport but the game was up.

Qoomaal was jailed for 15 months after admitting two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances regarding pension credit and housing benefits from August 2013 to February 2016.

He had been continuing to receive benefits, albeit reduced by £44 a week, while his case was pending. He also demanded a taxpayer-funded interpreter during eight hearings at Isleworth crown court.

Judge Jonathan Ferris spoke of his shock at how the scam had been allowed to succeed. He said: “He came here as a refugee 15 years ago and then goes back to Somalia to enjoy the nice weather. How does that work? I don’t see why a person who took nearly £39,000, went to another country and fabricated an immigration stamp on his passport should not go to prison immediately. What ties does he have in this country apart from the benefits system?”

Qoomaal’s defence lawyer said his client went to live in a warmer climate for health reasons but he had since suffered two heart attacks in two years.

The DWP said it would find anyone who abuses the system. It added: “Fraudsters divert support from those who need it the most.”

Source with pictures

Anyone granted asylum who then visits their homeland should have their asylum withdrawn.

Send him home at the end of his sentence.

30 Mar 2017

Serial OAP sponger jailed

Pensioner Alan Barlow dishonestly pocketed £93,659.90 in benefits after claiming he was living in Stoke-on-Trent – when he was really in Thailand with his new wife and two children. (h/t Tenancy Fraud)

The 67-year-old kept his Potteries council house as a 'bolt hole' and would return to the UK for NHS medical treatment.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Barlow falsely claimed council tax benefit, housing benefit, pension credits and disability living allowance (DLA) for several years – and even continued after being convicted of benefit fraud in 2011.

Now the defendant is starting a 16-month jail term after admitting four further counts of benefit fraud.

Barlow was correctly granted DLA in 2005 after suffering from a number of health problems, including multiple sclerosis and chronic lung disease.

Prosecutor Richard McConaghy said: "The fraud comes from the fact that for the main part, at least from 2010, he was living in Thailand. He met his now wife there in the late 1990s and began to spend more and more time there."

The court heard Stoke-on-Trent City Council stopped his council tax benefit and housing benefit in 2008 because of the time he spent in Thailand. He successfully got the benefits reinstated after saying he had been unaware of a rule that prohibited him from claiming while spending a period of more than 13 weeks out of the country. But he continued to spend most of his time in Thailand.

Mr McConaghy said: "In 2011 he received a conditional discharge from magistrates in relation to benefits, for exactly the same reasons we are concerned about in this case, and for exactly the same reasons his housing benefit and council tax benefit were cancelled in 2008 – that this country was no longer his main residence. It didn't stop him. He married in Thailand in 2014. The relationship he had there involved two children – one of whom was adopted. His council house in this country was used as a base to get medical treatment."

Barlow pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in his circumstances, and one of cheating the public revenue.

The court heard Barlow has started paying the cash back - at a rate of £30-a-week.

Robert Holt, mitigating, said: "He had a desire to be with his family because he feared being alone. He thinks he has not very long left in his life and he wishes to die in Thailand."

The court heard Barlow is on the waiting list for another council house in the city.

Jailing Barlow, Judge David Fletcher said: "You were fully aware that by maintaining a permanent residence outside the UK that the claims you were making for four different types of financial assistance were fraudulent. Having been convicted, you simply carried on doing what you were doing before. You were perfectly content that the taxpayers in the UK funded your life, and that of your wife and children, in Thailand."

Source

12 Oct 2016

Nominal punishments for extended benefit fraud

A Heysham resident and her accomplice in the Costa del Sol who falsely claimed he was living with her in the UK in order to fraudulently claim a UK benefit have both been found guilty of benefit fraud. (h/t Dave)

British pensioner Antony McNamara falsely made a claim in 2011 for Pension Credit, a benefit non-UK residents are not eligible to receive.

Despite living and working in Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol at the time, on his claim he stated that he lived in a house at The Cliffs, Heysham with his “sister” Margaret Walsh and asked that his benefit be paid into her bank account as he did not have one. Over the next four years his alleged sister would transfer his benefit money from her bank account to his, allowing McNamara to continue enjoying his Spanish lifestyle at the expense of the British taxpayer.

In 2015 investigations carried out jointly by DWP fraud teams in the UK and Spain revealed that not only had McNamara been living and working in Spain for the past four years and owned 50% of a property there but also that his alleged “sister” was actually a woman with whom he had been in a relationship with many years previously and had a child with.

In June of this year the 70 year old pleaded guilty at Lancaster Magistrates Court to benefit fraud totalling £15,147.90 and was handed 12 weeks in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to repay the money in full.

His fictional sister Margaret Walsh, 68, now of Maghull, Merseyside, admitted one offence of lying to the investigator when he called to speak to McNamara by saying that he had “just stepped out for a minute” but denied assisting him at the outset by letting the DWP think he was living with her. However, after a trial at Liverpool Magistrates Court, she was found guilty on all charges of assisting McNamara in obtaining benefit by deception and was sentenced to 10 weeks electronic tagging and a curfew.

DWP Fraud Investigator David Topping said: “We were tipped off anonymously about this and a lot of our cases come to us in that way".

He continued, illogically, "This case shows that people abroad who set out to defraud the benefit system in the UK by claiming benefits they are clearly not entitled to, will be tracked down and dealt with in the courts”.

If you suspect someone of committing or assisting someone to commit benefit fraud, call the free and confidential fraud hotline on 0800 854 440.

Source

12 Jan 2016

Judge orders Spain to enforce benefit fraud debt

Fugitive Tyneside tax cheat Bobby Webber faces being stripped of his luxury Tenerife bolthole after a landmark legal ruling.

Club singer Webber is on the run after failing to pay back a penny of the thousands he illegally pocketed in UK benefits while living on the Spanish island.

After he failed to comply with a Proceeds of Crime Act order, a warrant was issued for his arrest in 2011 but Webber has still not paid up and remains at large.

In the past his assets could have been safe abroad but new regulations mean UK authorities now have the power to get other European member states to enforce confiscation orders.

Now, after what prosecutors say is the first application of its kind, a judge has granted permission for the Spanish authorities to chase up 73-year-old Webber’s ill-gotten gains.

Judge Paul Sloan QC, at Newcastle Crown Court, said: “These provisions enable confiscations made by the UK to be enforced by other member states.”

Webber owns a luxury villa in the Amarilla Golf complex, on Tenerife, the proceeds of which would be more than enough to pay back the £75,000 he owes.

Judge Sloan said: “The available amount, which included the property in Spain, was sufficient to meet the benefit figure and a confiscation order was made in the sum of £75,000. It has not been satisfied and the defendant is at large and has not been traced.”

Prosecutor David Comb said the successful application was the first of its type since European regulations were brought into force in the UK in 2014.

Properties held in other European countries can be confiscated by the UK authorities with the help of other member states if they are the proceeds of an offence or were used in an offence.

Webber was made the subject of a confiscation order in November 2009 after staging a five-figure benefit fraud from his Spanish home. But more than six years after he was jailed for 51 weeks, he has failed to hand over a single penny of the confiscation order. A warrant for his arrest issued in August 2011 remains outstanding.

In an interview in 2014 from his Tenerife home, Webber claimed he had been forced to accept benefit fraud allegations to protect his family and said: “If I come back to England I’ll be locked-up.”

At the time he claimed his famous bar, the Penny Farthing in Tenerife’s Los Cristianos, which he has owned for 30 years, had been closed for four months as he struggled to make a living. Webber also said his luxury £410,000 three-bedroom villa in the upmarket Amarilla Golf complex was on the market but he had been unable to offload it. And he said his marriage had collapsed and he was desperate to return to Gateshead but was “stuck” in Spain.

Webber, previously of Barmston Court, Washington, said: “I can’t pay the money, I’m divorced and I’ve had nothing but problems. I’m sitting here with no cash. I’m stuck here, the house has been up for sale since I came back. You can’t sell anything here because no-one has any money. I’m in a Catch-22, I’m stuck. It’s caused me hell. I’ve got family in England but if I go over there I’m going to get locked-up. I’ve not paid the bill. The Penny Farthing is closed, it’s been closed for four months. I’ve got no money coming in. The whole thing has upset me, everything has upset me from start to finish. I don’t need this at my age.”

Webber said he served just three months of his 51-week jail term in Durham Prison before being electronically monitored on his release.

After he finished his sentence he fled to Spain. Clips posted on YouTube from 2013 show the former club singer entertaining crowds.

During the original hearing in 2009 he admitted four offences of failing to disclose information in relation to benefits and one offence of money laundering. The total value of the offences was £75,000.

Webber had claimed council tax benefit, housing benefits, income support and pension credit while he had a home in Tenerife. He admitted failing to notify a change of circumstances, deliberately hiding his Spanish property to get £69,000 in benefits. Following his conviction he was told he must pay back the money within six months or serve 21 months in default. But that ruling - in 2009 - has fallen on deaf ears and he has failed to pay back the cash.

Source

7 Sep 2015

'Abroad fraud' still over 5% of total benefit fraud!

Expat benefit fraudsters cost Britons nearly £67 million last year, reports the Daily Mail.

Scams include people going abroad but failing to declare their absence, failing to admit to owning property overseas, and working while claiming sickness benefits.

Swindlers have even posed as dead relatives to claim benefits on their behalf.

A fraud-busting team from the Department for Work and Pensions has followed up more than 1,000 tip-offs from its bases in Madrid and Alicante.

So far, it has reduced benefit fraud abroad by a third, down from £101 million in three years.

It was reported as £84m in 2012-13 - see here.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘We are committed to reducing this further. These benefit swindlers are stealing money meant to support some of the most vulnerable people in society.’

The government likes to talk up the amount of 'abroad fraud', but to talk down the overall benefit fraud total. Put the two numbers together, and claimed 'abroad fraud' is still over 5% of all benefit fraud!

As we said before, how likely is that, considering the small number of overseas claimants relative to the overall total?

25 Apr 2015

Benefit fraud case takes three years to come to court

A benefits cheat illegally claimed over £27,000 despite owning a Spanish villa and not living in the UK, a court heard.

Dianne Rhodes, 59, claimed income support and council tax benefits for six years after telling authorities she lived in the Hunslet area of Leeds.

Leeds Crown Court heard that throughout the period of offending she was living in the Valencia region of Spain where she owned a villa.

Rhodes was given a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for two years and was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to two offences of failing to notify a change in circumstances and one of making a dishonest representation to obtain benefits. Simon Clegg, prosecuting, said Rhodes’s initial claim for benefits in 2001 were legitimate.

But in 2006 she left her home on Parnaby Drive, Hunslet, to take up residency in Spain after buying a 50 per cent share in a villa. She failed to notify authorities of the move and continued to claim benefits which were paid into her bank account. The offending came to light in 2012 and she was arrested.

Graham Parkin, mitigating, said Rhodes fled the country in 2006 to escape domestic violence but accepted that she failed to notify authorities of a change in circumstances.

Mr Parkin said the property in Spain was worth around £35,000 and was in need of renovation. He said Rhodes had now returned to live in with her daughter and was studying for a languages degree at university.

Judge Neil Clark told Rhodes: “None of that is an excuse for stealing from the public. It amounts to nothing more and nothing less than that. You stole money from members of the public who provide that money for those who really need it.”

Rhodes now faces a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Source

She was arrested in 2012 but not prosecuted until 2015. Now we have to wait for a separate confiscation hearing.

The investigation procedures and the legal process need to be streamlined!