Showing posts with label anonymous benefit fraud tip off. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anonymous benefit fraud tip off. Show all posts

17 Jan 2020

Repeat benefit cheat claimed for dead wife - prison again

A 71-year-old man fraudulently claimed almost £32,000 in benefits as his wife's carer while she actually lived in a residential home.

Norman Gill continued to receive benefits after she passed away, until someone anonymously told the authorities what was going on.

Gill had previously been handed a suspended prison sentence after using the public purse to pay the mortgage on his half-a-million pound house in Swansea by claiming to be penniless while in fact running two successful businesses.

He was back in court on Thursday for more benefit frauds, offences committed shortly after he was released from prison for failing to pay back money from the first scam.

Swansea Crown Court heard Gill's initial claim for carer's allowance and pension credits on the basis he was caring for his wife - who was suffering with MS - was legitimate.

However, when his wife's condition deteriorated and she moved into Swansea 's Hengoed Court residential home in March 2012, Gill continued to claim benefits he was not entitled to.

Tom Scapens, prosecuting, said over the course of the following years the defendant was sent regular letters reminding him of his obligation to notify the authorities about any change of benefits.

The barrister said in 2015 Gill was also asked to fill and return a pension credit form which specifically included a question about whether his partner was living in a care home, to which he had replied no.

The court heard Mrs Gill died in January 2018 but the defendant did not notify the authorities - it was only some three months later following the receipt of information from an anonymous source that checks were made with the care home, and the true situation was revealed.

Gill, from Langland, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of a change of circumstances when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

The court heard that in 2009 he had been sentenced to 48 weeks in prison suspended for two years for benefit fraud. This offending had seen him claiming benefits from Swansea Council and the DWP on the basis he was unemployed and had no income - in reality he ran Piaf Fashions, which made him around £90,000 a year, and was the boss of property firm NT Project Management, which provided an income of up to £3,500 per month through its portfolio of houses in Swansea and Port Talbot .

The court heard he had been ordered to pay back £200,000 from his ill-gotten gains from this fraud but after failing to do was was jailed for 10 months. That financial confiscation order is still in place.

John Allchurch, for Gill, said it had been a "stressful and distressing time" for the defendant as he watched the health of his wife of almost four decades deteriorating - but he accepted he should have told the authorities about the changes in circumstances.

The court heard Gill has been in an "on-off" relationship with a woman in London for the last seven years, but the advocate said he did not know the "minutiae" of that relationship.

Mr Allchurch said his client's house was currently on the market for some £700,000 but there were two large mortgages on the property - both in excess of £300,000 - and if it is sold, the combination of those plus the outstanding confiscation order will extinguish any equity in the property, and leave the defendant homeless and having to leave "Swansea west".

Judge Paul Thomas QC told Gill he had embarked on his fraudulent claim for carer benefits "within a relatively short period" of having served a prison sentence for falling to pay what he owed from the original fraud.

He said the "persistence" of the defendant's fraudulent activities meant immediate custody was appropriate, despite his age.

Gill was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison - he will serve half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

Source with pictures

28 Dec 2019

Benefit cheat exaggerated incapacity

Lying Dominic Lappin pocketed £75,683 of taxpayer money on the basis he was too disabled to work - while secretly employed as a delivery driver.

Lappin claimed a range of benefits, including Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, which he was not entitled to.

A court heard he did have a bad back but he had over-egged his symptoms, claiming he was in constant discomfort and could only walk 10 to 20 yards very slowly and had to stop due to pain.

However, since 2013, he had been working as a delivery driver, driving for up to an hour at a time and being seen to walk 100 metres and climb stairs.

Now the 49-year-old, from Walker, Newcastle, caught after an anonymous tip off, has narrowly avoided going to prison after admitting benefit fraud at Newcastle Crown Court.

Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC told him: 'Over a period of almost six years, you claimed various benefits to which you were not entitled and you received them because you told lies to the DWP and the local authority.

'You received PIP, Housing Benefit, Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance, all on the basis you said you were not working, had no income or that you were incapacitated. You were telling lies. You had an income from work you were failing to declare and you exaggerated your symptoms as a result of your incapacity.

'Hard-pressed public resources were diverted to you when they could have been used elsewhere, for deserving candidates and other public service. The taxpayer has borne the burden for all of that and it's certainly not a victimless crime.'

Prosecutor Stuart Graham said Lappin had made various claims about the state of his health, claiming he couldn't walk far without help, that he needed help rising from his seat, needed help going to the toilet and going up and down stairs and that he felt drowsy and uncoordinated due to his medication.

Mr Graham told the court: 'He was supposed to inform the department of any change in circumstances or work he undertook. The evidence shows he had been working for Elite Powder Coatings from January 2013 as a delivery driver. He drove for up to an hour at a time, clearly in contradiction to the statement he put forward.

'The company director saw him walk 100 metres and climb stairs without any physical distress and he never saw him use a stick or fall down. He never saw him appear nervous, anxious or drowsy or be unable to carry out his duties.'

Recorder Iqbal said Lappin had claimed to have taken up work to set an example to his children but he warned: 'I hope you are ashamed of yourself, standing in the dock, no doubt your children reading in the local newspaper that their father has been convicted of benefit fraud.'

The judge said he had just been persuaded not to lock him up as it would cost more public money to look after him in jail and it would jeopardise his job and his ability to pay the money back and may have an adverse effect on his children.

He was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years with 250 hours of unpaid work.

Brian Hegarty, defending, said: 'The defendant undoubtedly suffered a serious back injury for which he continues to receive treatment to this day. He suffered that in around 2009 while working as a JCB driver. He claimed for benefits and was entitled to then because of his incapacity. The charge is because his condition improved and he failed to inform the agencies.'

He added that the condition was variable and that he continues to use morphine-based pain relief as required and had to take time off work while employed as a part-time delivery driver due to it.

Mr Hegarty said it is possible Lappin would have been entitled to some benefits at a reduced level and was under financial pressure and started working to prove his worth to his family and set an example to his children.

He said he continues to work and rents his home, telling the court: 'He clearly made a terrible mistake.'

The court heard Lappin is paying back his ill-gotten gains at £340 a month and has so far paid back around £4,500.

Source with picture

20 Sep 2019

Benefit cheat will have to sell house

A businessman who pocketed thousands of pounds in state handouts while working is currently paying back his ill-gotten gains at a rate which will take him more than 100 years to clear.

Charles Sludden, 63, continued claiming jobseekers allowance and employment support allowance despite doing sub-contracting work for 10 companies, a court heard.

Sludden, from Low Fell, Gateshead, who has a house which is worth more than £500,000, pocketed £33,292 he was not entitled to in a dishonest claim spanning more than four years.

He was rumbled after an anonymous tip-off and pleaded guilty to three benefit fraud charges.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he is currently paying back the money at just £25 a month, although he faces a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at which he is likely to be ordered to pay back the full amount from his assets.

Jessica Slaughter, prosecuting, said: "The Crown say the defendant failed to disclose to the DWP earnings that he was receiving.

"When claiming jobseekers allowance, the defendant did so on the basis neither he nor his partner had any form of work income, capital or savings.

"When claiming employment support allowance he did so on the grounds of ill health, saying he was incapable of work and that he had no income, capital or savings. Anonymous information was received to suggest he had been working for his own company on a self-employed basis from his home address and suggesting he had undeclared assets."

The court heard an investigation showed he had been working for 10 different companies.

Miss Slaughter told the court: "When interviewed, he reluctantly admitted he had not told the DWP he had been earning money through self-employed sub contracting work."

She added: "The house he lives in is said to be worth £575,000 and there is a timetable to be set in relation to proceeds of crime."

Sludden has so far paid back £100 of the money, the court heard.

He admitted three benefit fraud charges between March 2013 and May 2017 and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work, a four month night-time curfew and a community order.

Ms Recorder Karaiskos told him: "The offences came to light because of an anonymous tip-off then an investigation ensued which revealed you had been working but failed to disclose that information to the relevant department.

"You are a man of previous good character and you were at one point a successful businessman and fell into financial difficulties.

"You were entitled to claim benefits at the beginning but continued to claim them unlawfully and dishonestly. I'm told you are remorseful and ashamed and so you should be. What example are you setting to your daughters who are now at university?

"The money was not spent on any lavish lifestyle but to pay the bills. You are now currently employed in two different jobs and repaying at £25 a month, it's going to take years to repay that."

Penny Hall, defending, said: "Before these offences, he was a businessman and, it seems, a rather successful businessman and a law-abiding man.

"What led to the offending was difficulties with work. He had believed he had secured a contract which was a significant contract, for which he had spent money to facilitate that contract and obtained credit in order to prepare for that contract.

"It transpired, in fact, the person he had spoken with didn't have the authority to agree that contract so when he invoiced the company he was informed the contract was not agreed and didn't actually exist.

"As a result of that, he lost future work and lost money. He had obtained credit as a result and fell into financial difficulties. That, it seems, led to a downward spiral in his business."

Miss Hall said Sludden had started claiming benefits legitimately at first due to his lack of income.

She added that the contracts he went on to secure while claiming benefits were "minimal" and he was unsure when or if he would get paid from them. The nature of his business was not revealed in court.

Miss Hall told the court: "He accepts he didn't notify the department of that.

"Despite the reference in the pre-sentence report of his main concern being for him, he is someone who is remorseful for his actions and clearly appreciates the effect this type of offending has on the wider community and benefits system. He is ashamed and embarrassed he is before this court.

"He is now employed and is trying to pay the money back to the department, at £25 a month from his income, and he has put his house up for sale."


16 Aug 2019

"Psychic medium" was benefits cheat

A Kilmarnock-based psychic who calls himself Scotland’s Straight Talking Medium pled guilty to fraud.

George Wyllie, who travels the world with his private readings and live demonstrations as a medium, admitted fraudulently claiming £8500 worth of disability benefit to which he was not entitled.

Wyllie admitted the offence at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week.

The court heard how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) received an anonymous tip-off that the 37-year-old was working full-time as a spiritual medium, performing on stage for hours and mobile when attending appointments.

An investigation carried out by the DWP revealed Wyllie had been travelling for his work and had conducted vlogs on the streets of New York - all while claiming personal independence payments (PIP).

The fiscal depute told the court: “There was a video uploaded on the accused’s website entitled in May 2017. It shows the accused able to stand and move for prolonged periods.

“It shows him able to bend forward, reach below his knees and withhold that position and straighten up again without any problems.”

She added: “Surveillance shows the accused undertaking activities at his home address in contradiction to his claim for PIP. He was viewed carrying a TV, carrying out gardening activities, using a water hose, moving wheelie bins and able to walk more than 40 yards.

“Footage at Glasgow Airport shows the accused en route to New York travelling alone and at one point holding a bag in excess of 200 yards.

“His video blog shows the accused broadcasting live and conducting a blog while walking around the streets of New York.”

Wyllie’s Facebook page George Wyllie Medium & Psychic shows a number of videos and live vlogs updating fans on his upcoming events and activities.

His website, which describes him as “The Real Deal bringing proof of life after life”, documented his trip to New York in July 2018, including a hand-held video of him walking through downtown Manhattan on his way to the theatre.

He pled guilty to claiming £8500 of PIP to which he was not entitled between May 2017 and November 2018 at a former address in Kilwinning.

His agent told Sheriff Alastair Watson that Wyllie suffered a range of mental health conditions including a personality disorder. She said: “This was a man who thought he was not doing anything wrong.”

However, Sheriff Watson replied: “If you can walk about the streets of New York, taking international flights, you do not even remotely meet the requirements for PIP. He did not need much advice to find that out.”

The lawyer replied: “His personality disorder clearly had an impact on him.

“He has developed a split personality as a way of coping with life. He has shown remorse and recognises the damage his actions have caused to society by impact on the public purse. With the hopes he has for his business he hopes he can repay that sum.”

Sheriff Watson told Wyllie: “You are a fraud. You have obtained PIP when you clearly were not entitled to it and it must have been absolutely obvious to you that you were not entitled.

“I feel sorry for all the genuine claimants who are made to go through rigorous and sometimes embarrassing examinations. They all suffer because of people like you.

“It is dishonest people like you that cause the need for these rigorous examinations. You are so close to custody.”

Wyllie was sentenced to 12 months of supervision and placed under a curfew order, forcing him to wear an electronic tag and remain at home between 7pm and 7am each night for three months.


1 Jul 2019

Judge says £50k benefit fraud was "out of character"!

A couple from Barry claimed nearly £50,000 in benefits by pretending one was the other one's landlord, a court heard. (h/t Dave)

Lace Eileen Perrett, 56, claimed both Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Housing Benefit between March 2013 and November 2017 from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and her local authority, the Vale of Glamorgan Council .

But just months after declaring she lived on her own and was unable to work her partner, Leon Ronald Harris, 58, was living with her.

Prosecutor Thomas Roberts told Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday that from August 2013: "She was maintaining a common household with Harris. That change in circumstance was never reported."

On a form dated January 30, 2017, both Perrett and Harris signed to claim benefits saying that Harris was the landlord and Perrett was the tenant. In total the pair received in £47,111 between August 2013 and November 2017 in benefits they were not entitled to.

During those four years the pair also went on three holidays together, enjoying trips to Bulgaria, Kos, and Spain. But the couple were investigated after an anonymous online tip was reported to the DWP.

Perrett was charged with two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstance of entitlement to social security benefit and one count of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.

Harris was charged with one count of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit after the declaration on the form in January 2017.

Both pleaded guilty to the charges at Cardiff Magistrates Court on May 14 this year.

In mitigation Perrett, through her representative Sophie Hill, said she suffered with several medical conditions including diabetes, COPD, asthma, and a degenerative spinal condition.

Harris, who represented himself, said: "I regret it and I'll never do anything like this again. I'm really sorry."

The court heard how the pair were now repaying the overpayment in monthly instalments and were both previously of good character. The couple were both handed 12-month prison sentences suspended for 20 months.

Perrett was also ordered to undertake 20 sessions of rehabilitation activities and Harris was ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Nicola Jones said when handing down her sentence: "This is entirely out of character for both of you and I accept you both have genuine remorse. I doubt very much either of you will commit an offence again."

Source with pictures

15 Oct 2018

"Disabled" pensioner walked her dog 4 times a day

A 72-year-old benefits cheat who falsely claimed more than £22,400 was caught after being spotted walking her dog up to four times a day.

Patricia Kowalewski claimed disability living allowance between March 24 2010 and September 27 2016, stating she wasn’t able to carry out certain everyday tasks.

But the Department of Work and Pensions received an anonymous tip-off before investigators carried out surveillance.

Fiscal depute Anna Chisholm said: “She claimed that her needs were greater than they actually were. This first came to light when an anonymous allegation came to the DWP as to the accused’s ability to walk the dog… up to four times a day.”

Investigators watched Kowalewski on eight occasions also spotting her walking with no aid, at a “normal pace”, opening and closing garage doors with no difficulty and picking up shopping from her car.

Ms Chisholm said Kowalewski had claimed a total of £44,929.50 over the same period but accepted she “would have been entitled to some of the disability allowance”.

Kowalewski appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court for sentencing having previously pled guilty.

Defence agent Gregor Kelly said: “It’s a matter of great shame to her that she finds herself facing a criminal process so late in life.”

He said Kowalewski suffered from back problems and chronic pain and had good days and bad days, adding: “It could be argued it’s a partial fraud.” He said she had been paying money back at £200 per month.

Sheriff Graham Buchanan said: “Plainly this is a serious offence because of the amount of money which you obtained from the state to which you were not entitled.”

He ordered Kowalewski, from Kingswells, to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like these show how we are catching the minority who cheat the system and divert taxpayers’ money from those who need it. We are determined to catch those we suspect of fraudulently claiming benefits by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils.”

Source with picture

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.


7 Jun 2018

Small fine for sub-letting council flat

A council house tenant has been fined after admitting subletting his Exeter home.

Dave Kelly, from Farnborough, admitted subletting his council flat in Clifton Road, Exeter, from September 28 2014 until August 2016.

He pleaded guilty to the offence at Plymouth Magistrates Court and was fined £325, ordered to pay back the £5,985 he gaoned by subletting the property, a victim surcharge of £32 and £450 costs.

The court heard that at the time of the offence, Kelly was working away in Hampshire where he was staying with his girlfriend.

He decided to sublet his council property to a friend of his mother and arranged for the unlawful sub-tenant to pay £540 a month into his bank account. This amount was later increased to £590 and then £610 a month.

An investigation, carried out by Plymouth City Council Fraud Team on behalf of the Devon Tenancy Fraud Group, was started after an anonymous telephone caller alleged that the tenant was not occupying the property but was instead sub-letting it to someone else.

After the case, an Exeter City Council spokesman said that social housing fraud costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year:
At a time when social housing is at a premium, this criminal behaviour is totally unacceptable. Exeter City Council has a zero tolerance approach to fraud and will continue to protect the public purse. Fraudulent activity diverts money and resources from those who legitimately have need of council services and contributes to higher council tax bills.