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

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."

Source

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.

Source

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.

Source

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.
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