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Showing posts with label assets benefit fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assets benefit fraud. Show all posts

7 May 2019

£166k lottery winner jailed for benefit fraud

A man who won big on the Postcode Lottery has been sent to prison for benefit fraud after continuing to claim benefits.

Eric Burrows scooped £166,000 on the popular lotto, then posed with other winners for publicity photos at Swansea's Brangwyn Hall.

But he failed to notify the authorities of his good fortune and continued to claim housing benefit and employment support allowance.

A judge said it was clear from a probation report into Burrows that the 62-year-old had been motivated by greed, and had shown "little or no remorse" for his actions.

Swansea Crown Court heard Burrows began claiming benefits in 2004 because he was unable to work and had only limited savings, and for many years the claim was entirely legitimate.

However in 2015 the defendant won £166,666 on the Postcode Lottery.

Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Burrows' "good fortune" meant he now had more than the £16,000 capital limit for benefit claimants, meaning his entitlement ceased. The authorities were not notified, however.

The prosecutor said by the November of 2017 Burrows' savings were down to £7,665 with the lotto money seemingly having gone on items including holidays to Disney World in Florida, a £22,000 car, a motorhome of the same value, and gifts to his parter and sister.

Mr Jones said when Burrows was interviewed under caution by investigators he accepted he had won the lottery, and said he did not declare it because he regarded the cash as "family money" and not his own.

Burrows, from Waunarlwydd , Swansea , had previously pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud totalling some £20,157 when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

The court heard he has previous convictions for thefts, taking a car without the owner's consent, burglary, and assault with intent to commit robbery, though there is nothing on his record since 1987.

Frank Phillips, for Burrows, said he had no doubt the defendant's behaviour in failing to declare his windfall "will not have impressed the court or anyone else", and he said his client's thinking had been "disturbed".

He said Burrows had been out of trouble for 30 years prior to the commission of these offences, and was now in poor physical health.

Judge Keith Thomas described the offending as a "deliberate and determined fraud" which took funds from an already stretched public purse.

He said it was clear from a probation report into the defendant his motivation had been greed, and he had shown "little or no remorse" for his dishonest behaviour.

The judge said the only question to be decided was whether any term of imprisonment could be suspended or should be served immediately.

The judge said having carefully read the sentencing guidelines and guidance, read the probation report, and listened to submissions there was no "no basis for believing a suspended sentence would have any rehabilitative purpose".

Giving Burrows a one-third discount for this guilty pleas, judge Thomas sentenced him to 24 weeks prison for each of the five offences, all the sentences to run concurrently with each other making an overall sentence of 24 weeks.

Source with picture

29 Apr 2019

Lottery winner kept claiming benefits

A lottery winner has been sent to prison for benefit fraud after he continued to claim benefits .

Eric Burrows scooped £166,000 in the Postcode Lottery however failed to notify the authorities of his new wealth.

As he rolled in the cash he continued to claim housing benefit and employment support allowance.

A court judge said it was clear from a probation report into Burrows that the 62-year-old had been motivated by greed.

Burrows was told by the judge at Swansea Crown Court he had shown "little or no remorse" for his actions.

He began claiming benefits in 2004 because he was unable to work and had only limited savings, and for many years the claim was entirely legitimate.

However in 2015 the defendant won £166,666 on the Postcode Lottery.

Craig Jones, prosecuting, said Burrows' "good fortune" meant he now had more than the £16,000 capital limit for benefit claimants, meaning his entitlement ceased. The authorities were not notified, however.

The prosecutor said by the November of 2017 Burrows' savings were down to £7,665 with the lotto money seemingly having gone on items including holidays to Disney World in Florida, a £22,000 car, a motorhome of the same value, and gifts to his parter and sister.

Mr Jones said when Burrows was interviewed under caution by investigators he accepted he had won the lottery, and said he did not declare it because he regarded the cash as "family money" and not his own.

Burrows, from Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud totalling some £20,157.65 when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

The court heard he has previous convictions for thefts, taking a car without the owner's consent, burglary, and assault with intent to commit robbery, though there is nothing on his record since 1987.

Frank Phillips, for Burrows, said he had no doubt the defendant's behaviour in failing to declare his windfall "will not have impressed the court or anyone else", and he said his client's thinking had been "disturbed".

He said Burrows had been out of trouble for 30 years prior to the commission of these offences, and was now in poor physical health.

Judge Keith Thomas described the offending as a "deliberate and determined fraud" which took funds from an already stretched public purse.

He said it was clear from a probation report into the defendant his motivation had been greed, and he had shown "little or no remorse" for his dishonest behaviour.

The judge said the only question to be decided was whether any term of imprisonment could be suspended or should be served immediately.

The judge said having carefully read the sentencing guidelines and guidance, read the probation report, and listened to submissions there was no "no basis for believing a suspended sentence would have any rehabilitative purpose".

Giving Burrows a one-third discount for this guilty pleas, judge Thomas sentenced him to 24 weeks prison for each of the five offences, all the sentences to run concurrently with each other making an overall sentence of 24 weeks.

Source with picture

24 Apr 2019

Former DWP employee in £37k benefit fraud

A Henleaze man ripped off benefit money from the government department he used to work for. (h/t Dave)

Robert Lyne was formerly employed by the Department of Work and Pensions, Bristol Crown Court was told.

But he pocketed just under £37,000 in fraudulent payouts by failing to reveal he had nearly £100,000 stashed in the bank.

Lyne, 63, pleaded guilty to making dishonest representations to obtain benefit, between October 2012 and March last year.

The Recorder of Bristol His Honour Judge Peter Blair QC handed him a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

The judge told him: "You dishonestly obtained social security benefits. It should be 36 weeks prison.

"But you are aged 63, you are completely clean of previous convictions and you have an exemplary background of employment. You have repaid nearly £37,000 of Employment Support Allowance."

Lyne was fined £1,000 and told to pay court costs of £360 and a victim surcharge of £115.

Gregory Gordon, prosecuting, said between October 2012 and March 2018 Lyne claimed £36, 915.20 in Employment Support Allowance, declaring he was unable to work and had £350.11 in savings.

Mr Gregory said: "He actually had substantial savings. At the start he had £94,988.90. The threshold for the claim is £16,000."

Lyne admitted his guilt in interview and apologised.

He said during the period of the claims he was looking after his father and had suffered family bereavements and mental health issues.

Lyne also produced a letter to the DWP, in which he said had savings, which was not received.

Nicholas Fridd, defending, said: "He is a man of good character. His offending simply makes no sense. There was no financial motive. He repaid all the money. He does not appear to have been thinking straight."

Mr Fridd said his client had previously worked for government departments, including the DWP, and had led an "exemplary" lifestyle.

Source

10 Apr 2019

Burton benefits cheat had four houses

A 43-year-old woman claimed more than £3,500 in benefits she was not entitled to by failing to declare she had a job, a court has heard. (h/t Dave)

Parveen Akhtar admitted two charges of making a false statement to obtain benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions when she appeared before Cannock Magistrates' Court.

The first charge relates to March 10, 2016, when Akhtar, from Burton, claimed Carers' Allowance to the value of £3,730.80 for caring for her nephew. She did this without declaring she had employment at a rest home where she worked as a carer.

The second offence was on November 11, 2017, when she applied for Employment and Support Allowance for the Department of Work and Pensions. On the application she failed to declare she had an interest in four properties.

Chris Coughlan, prosecuting, said: "This is fraud from the public purse.

"On the form it asks if she had interests in any other properties apart from the home she lives in. She ticked the no box and it was a lie as she has a beneficial interest in four properties."

He added that Akhtar was subject to a suspended sentence for a similar offence and he requested a confiscation order for the money that was owed.

Simon Dean, defending Akhtar, told the court: "Ms Akhtar has been the victim of horrendous domestic abuse which is behind all the matters she has faced before the court that she addresses this morning."

Akhtar will be sentenced by a judge at Stafford Crown Court when more detail will be given about the domestic abuse she has suffered.

The date has not yet been set for the hearing but she answers unconditional bail until the next court date.

Source

9 Apr 2019

Lottery winner kept claiming benefits

A lottery winner scooped a £300,000 jackpot – but kept on claiming benefit payments despite no longer being entitled to them. (h/t Dave)

Lesley Thomas, 49, bagged the massive windfall but failed to tell the authorities and kept claiming housing benefit and employment and support allowance.

Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court on Monday heard the total overpayment was in excess of £17,988.

Prosecutor Monique McKevitt said: “[Ms Thomas] received a sum of £300,000 as a lottery win from Camelot UK.

“Ms Thomas was interviewed on March 15 last year. She admitted that she had claimed the fraudulent funds. The payment has been paid back in full.”

Thomas pleaded guilty to failing to inform Merthyr Tydfil council of her change of circumstances relating to the housing benefit she was receiving between April 2015 and November 2015.

She also pleaded guilty to failing to inform the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about her change of circumstances between April 2015 and February 2018, which would have affected her entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance.

A probation report said Ms Thomas has shown “deep remorse for her actions”.

The court was also told Ms Thomas, from Merthyr Tydfil , lives alone with no children or partner.

She was said to have numerous health complaints that require the ongoing support of carers on a daily basis, especially to help her carry out daily chores.

Kim Treloar, mitigating, said: “This case goes back some years now.”

Discussing the lottery win she added: “She gave some money to her niece to assist her. She gave some money to her relatives.

“She suffered with depression, anxiety, and many physical issues. She has fully accepted that she’s done wrong.”

Bench chair Mary Morris said the magistrates “took a long time” to consider the sentence they would impose.

They handed Thomas a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to pay £200 in costs and was handed a 12-week tagged curfew.

Mrs Morris said: “[The offence] was over a long period of time and we did find that it was a deliberate act.”

Source with picture

5 Apr 2019

Big Brother star's sister avoids jail for £21k benefit fraud

I didn't know Big Brother had 'stars' ... seems I'm just out of touch.

THE sister of a reality TV star was spared jail after a court heard she funded her celebrity lifestyle with £21,000 in illegal benefits.

Lauryn Goodman, sister of Celebrity Big Brother star Chloe, wept in the dock as details of her benefit fraud were read out.

The 28-year-old spent thousands on trips to Las Vegas and skiing in France with her sister. The reality TV star was said to have been mortified when she found out.

Hove Trial Centre heard she was now trying to return to paid work with HSBC bank. (!)

Goodman, from Portslade, was handed a seven-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She will also have to do 200 hours’ unpaid work and pay £670 costs after the court heard she had already paid back all the money she claimed in benefits.

Prosecuting, Pierce Power said the seven offences had been committed between December 2013 and August 2016. Goodman claimed disability benefit and housing benefit totalling £21,007. She admitted the charges at an earlier hearing.

Mr Power said: “Ms Goodman failed to declare income of £370 a month from an insurance policy. She also had a joint mortgage with her mother on a house in Portslade.” The court heard she did not think the insurance money was income.

And she claimed she did not have access to several bank accounts which belonged to her grandmother and father.

She also had more than £16,000 in the bank.

The housing benefit was claimed on a flat in Brighton where she was the tenant but never paid any rent.

Mr Power said she used £3,500 to buy airline tickets to Las Vegas on a trip with sister Chloe. Money was also use to hire ski equipment on another holiday with her sister at Les Arcs in France.

Sally Mertens for Goodman said her client was in an ongoing battle with depression.

She said: “There is an inability to face the music as a result of telling lies and behaving dishonestly. She is very, very sorry for her conduct. Her sister, Chloe Goodman, who sits in the public gallery, was mortified to consider her conduct has exacerbated the situation. Ms Goodman has lost her good character. She is well educated and has had many opportunities.”

His Honour Judge David Rennie told Goodman the offending went on for some time but was essentially out of character.

“This is not who you are,” he said. “You have made some catastrophically bad decisions. But that is never an excuse for what is essentially stealing public money.”

Goodman made no comment as she walked free from court.

Source with pictures

26 Mar 2019

Benefit cheat claimed nearly £30k in benefits

A benefit cheat gran has been hauled before the courts for pocketing handouts after failing to declare she owned a house.

For years, Marion Pearson got housing benefit and council tax benefit she was not entitled to, as the owner of a property which ended up being worth £230,000.

A court heard the 77-year-old received an overpayment of just less than £30,000.

Now Pearson, from Newcastle, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard Pearson had started claiming the handouts in 2006 after arriving in the North East from Essex after fleeing an abusive relationship.

Someone else filled the forms in for her and the section about assets was left blank - and the authorities did not review the position until 2017.

The claim for housing benefit was dishonest between 2006 and 2017 and for council tax benefit from 2006 until 2013.

Liam O'Brien, prosecuting, said: "The dishonesty was when she completed the review paperwork she dishonestly failed to declare she owned a property in Harlow, Essex. At the time it was worth £130,000 but at the end of the period it was worth at least £230,000. What is clear is that at the end of the period she had equity of about £100,000 available to her in that property."

The court heard the house has been occupied by her daughter throughout the period.

Pearson, who has six previous convictions for dishonesty, the last of which was in 1993, admitted dishonestly claiming benefits.

She was sentenced to four months suspended for 12 months.

Judge Robert Spragg told her: "You admitted owning the property and explained your daughter lived there and was paying the mortgage and would inherit it when you died. You felt sorry for your daughter. You have tried to get back that property and there have been some civil proceedings. Now you are having to pay rent and council tax, you are in financial difficulties and need to get the money from that property."

Jonathan Cousins, defending, said Pearson had been unable to secure the property to sell due to "technicalities she didn't comply with" and she has instructed solicitors to help.

He added: "She issued a notice to quit the property to her daughter which expires today and she waits to see what her daughter will do."

Mr Cousins said Pearson came to the North East to flee an abusive relationship and initially spent time in a refuge. While there, the initial form to claim benefits was filled out by someone else, who did not complete the section about assets.

He added: "The likelihood is she was simply not asked those questions by the housing officer who completed the form. When the form was then completed, the existence of the property was not disclosed and there were no other forms after that until 2017."

Source

18 Mar 2019

Benefit cheat did not declare savings

A Derby woman who claimed thousands of pounds worth of housing benefit despite having huge savings now has an anxious wait to find out her fate.

Marcia Oliver pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud when she appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court.

Magistrates heard how the 47-year-old claimed more than £11,500 in housing benefit from Derby City Council between June 9, 2016 and June 4, 2018.

Oliver also claimed almost £8,000 in additional DWP benefits between March 14, 2016, and April 12, 2018. She was receiving jobseeker’s allowance.

The court heard how she had been claiming all the cash while she had savings of more than £16,000, higher than the permitted limit in bank accounts, which she failed to declare.

Now Oliver must wait to find out how she will be punished as magistrates adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report to be drafted.

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25 Feb 2019

Money saved from benefits caused benefit fraud

A “dedicated” mother who spent years saving up her benefit payments to help out her son has been ordered to pay back some of the money.

Kayann Phillips is a carer for her 23-year-old son and, instead of spending all the money she received in benefits, decided to save as much as she could each month.

After building up more than £50,000 in savings at one point she was convicted last year of benefit fraud. Now she has three months to repay more than £28,000 after being paid £72,517.04 she was not entitled to.

Her case was listed before Judge Jeremy Jenkins for an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act at Cardiff Crown Court on February 22.

When he sentenced her in November last year he said: “I find that this is an unusual case.”

The 55-year-old had denied six counts of benefit fraud but was found guilty by a jury following a two-day trial at Newport Crown Court.

Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said the charges related to the period between August 2011 and September 2017.

The court heard Phillips was “absolutely entitled” to claim the social security benefits.

In his sentencing remarks Judge Jenkins said: “Unusually you were not spending those benefits to the full extent, but you were saving part of the money you received. You were saving, I have no doubt, for a very noble purpose – to enrich your son’s life.”

The court heard the total overpayment was £72,517.04. On Friday a confiscation order was made for £26,843.91 for housing benefit and £1,487.52 for council tax benefit.

She has three months to make the payments and would have to go to prison for six months if she failed to pay.

The court heard her son has “considerable difficulties” and she has been caring for him since he was born.

Benefit claimants must inform the Department for Work and Pensions if they have savings. The authorities then make deductions according to the amount involved. Prosecutors said at one stage Phillips had more than £50,000 in savings but failed to declare them on her claim forms.

Judge Jenkins said: “As a result you were not entitled to the full benefits you continued to receive.”

At the last hearing, her barrister Clare Wilks described the circumstances as “unusual” and said the Probation Service found Phillips to present a low risk of re-offending.

Judge Jenkins said: “I find that this is an unusual case, albeit the charge of fraud is clearly made out.”

He noted the amount involved was “considerable” and said the forms made it “abundantly clear” the defendant should have declared any savings.

The judge described Phillips as a “dedicated” mother who had previously led an “unblemished” life. He added: “You are 55 and you have never before come anywhere close to getting into trouble.”

On that occasion Phillips, from Llanharan, Pontyclun, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Source

13 Feb 2019

£55k benefit claimant had £84k inheritance

A mother claimed more than £55,000 in benefits when she had stashed away over £84,000 from money she inherited and invested. (h/t FraudManager)

Annmarie Rudkin drew income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit she would not otherwise have been entitled to.

Prosecutor Trevor Wright said the claims were dishonest from the start.

The 39-year-old, from Gillingham, inherited £65,000 and the investment matured to the total amount of £84,105.

Mr Wright said Rudkin applied for the benefits in October 2010, but did not declare the large sum she had. Some of the benefits were in her name and some in joint names with her husband.

Rudkin claimed she had given £10,000 to each of her two children.

“It doesn’t alter the fact there was a substantial sum of money that went into her account, even if she gave £20,000 away,” Mr Wright told Maidstone Crown Court. “She confirmed she was saving for her children’s future, or that when they got older they could go to university.”

Asked about the investment, Rudkin said: “I had a lot going on. I didn’t want to think about it. I was concentrating on getting myself better.” But Mr Wright said the mother knew she had to declare the savings.

She claimed £27,270 in income support, £26,150 in housing benefit and £2,150 in council tax benefit.

Rudkin denied dishonestly claiming benefit, but was convicted by a jury by an 11-1 majority.

Adjourning sentence for reports until April 5, Judge Adele Williams said: “The value of the fraud certainly passes the custody threshold, and it was a fraud from the beginning. The fact I am ordering a pre-sentence report doesn’t mean I won’t send you to prison on the next occasion.”

Bail was continued.

Source

29 Jan 2019

Another light sentence for benefit fraud

A former teacher stashed a £184,000 inheritance while pocketing state benefits.

Grainne Furbank claimed three separate benefits, saying she had just one bank account with just £13.85 in it.

And when DWP fraud investigators began probing her case, the 63-year-old transferred funds from her secret accounts to family members.

And now a judge has ordered Furbank, from Margate, to ensure that some of the money, which was used to buy houses, is returned to taxpayers.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how between April 2013 and June last year, Furbank repeatedly claimed housing, jobseekers’ allowance and employment support benefits.

But prosecutor Michael Peters said she failed to tell the authorities she had inherited money from the sale of her mother’s home.

During the four-year period after the home was sold she collected a total of almost £31,000 in benefits handouts.

The judge, Recorder Bruce Houlder QC, told Furbank – who had claimed she was bullied out of her teaching post – that she had let “greed get the better of her”.

He told her he was “astonished” that she had made no attempt to repay the money. “You have very, very narrowly missed out on a prison sentence," he added.

And Recorder Houlder ordered Furbank to wear an electronic tag for three months and to stay at her home between 7pm and 6am each day.

“You claimed benefits to which you were not entitled and have moved around from Cornwall to Gloucester and so on,” he told her. “You failed to declare a number of bank accounts, including one with £184,000. You decided to disseminate those funds to your children. You siphoned some of the money into your son’s account knowing you were going to be interviewed by the DWP, with that money coming back into your account later.”

The judge said he was not “fully persuaded” that the money was going to go to her children and that she was not going to benefit herself from the cash.

“I am astonished that you, knowing you were coming to court, have made no attempt at recouping the money from your family that was effectively stolen from the State," he added.

Nicholas Jones, defending, said that Furbank was now suffering from heart problems and living on benefits!

He added: “She was a teacher and she feels she was bullied out of that employment.”

Furbank, who admitted three deception charges, was given a nine-month community order and told that there would now be an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to claw back the cash. She was also ordered to pay £340 court costs.

Source

22 Dec 2018

'Thoroughly dishonest' £12k benefit cheat did not declare second house

A £12,000 benefit cheat who kept a second home secret from the government has been branded greedy and dishonest - but avoided prison.

Razean Afsar, 55, was told by Teesside's most senior judge: "You are a thoroughly dishonest woman.

"Many offences of benefit fraud are carried out by people who are desperate," said Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC. "You were not desperate. You had access to at least £22,500. It was motivated by greed."

Prosecutor Nigel Soppitt said Afsar started claiming benefits in 2006 as an unemployed woman with no other income. But she bought a second home on Lansdowne Road, Longlands , Middlesbrough on a buy-to-let mortgage in February 2013.

She did not tell the Department for Work and Pensions of the £90,000 purchase, with £67,500 borrowing and £22,500 equity in the property. And she claimed on DWP forms she had no capital, making a string of false declarations in 2013 and 2015.

"Plainly she did," said prosecutor Jonathan Walker at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday. "The overpayments made were £12,198.73 from February 2013 to July 2015. Inquiries were started into this lady and this led to the discovery of the fact she already owned a property in central Middlesbrough. She conceded the allegations in interview, saying she had to move because that property was damp."

Afsar admitted one charge of fraud, one of failing to disclose information to make a gain and three of making false statements to obtain benefits. The benefits were income support, employment support allowance and jobseeker's allowance.

Magistrates heard in October that she expressed "deep remorse and regret".

Tom Mitchell, defending at the sentencing hearing, said: "She has been in this country since she was 22. She has no previous convictions. She has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. There was effectively a full confession."

He said she would face repaying the state under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

"Ultimately she will pay for her crime fully because there is equity in the property," he added. "She's not accused of criminally buying a house. She is accused of telling a lie and conniving in the same lie on several occasions."

Judge Bourne-Arton, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Afsar: "You were dishonest in the way you committed these offences. In my judgment you were dishonest in what you said to the probation officer. You are not illiterate and uneducated. You had the capacity to take out this mortgage and to plan this offence. There was a degree of sophistication behind these offences.

"You will of course lose all benefit of your crime. In the fullness of time the sum of £12,200 will be taken from you.

"It's conceded on your behalf that a sentence of imprisonment is inevitable."

Bearing in mind her age and lack of previous convictions, he did not jail her, but made her a prisoner in her own home at night. She was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with a four-month 9pm to 7am curfew.

Source

3 Dec 2018

Benefit fraud mother hid savings from benefits

A “dedicated” mother who spent years saving up her benefit payments to help out her son may be forced to pay the money back.

Kayann Phillips is a carer for her 23-year-old son and, instead of spending all the money she received in benefits, decided to save as much as she could each month.

After building up more than £50,000 in savings at one point she has now been convicted of benefit fraud.

Speaking at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Jenkins said: “I find that this is an unusual case.”

The 55-year-old denied six counts of benefit fraud but was found guilty by a jury following a two-day trial at Newport Crown Court.

Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, said the charges related to the period between August 2011 and September 2017.

The court heard Phillips was “absolutely entitled” to claim the social security benefits.

In his sentencing remarks Judge Jenkins said: “Unusually you were not spending those benefits to the full extent but you were saving part of the money you received. You were saving, I have no doubt, for a very noble purpose – to enrich your son’s life.”

The court heard her adult son has “considerable difficulties” and she has been caring for him since he was born.

Benefit claimants must inform the Department for Work and Pensions if they have savings. The authorities then make deductions according to the amount involved.

Prosecutors said at one stage Phillips had more than £50,000 in savings but failed to declare them on her claim forms.

Judge Jenkins said: “As a result you were not entitled to the full benefits you continued to receive.”

Mr Gobir said the total overpayment was more than £70,000 and there will be a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act on February 22.

Clare Wilks, defending, described the circumstances as “unusual” and said the Probation Service found her client to present a low risk of re-offending.

The court heard the defendant only has access to her current account as her other accounts have been restrained.

Judge Jenkins said: “I find that this is an unusual case, albeit the charge of fraud is clearly made out.”

He noted the amount involved as “considerable” and said the forms made it “abundantly clear” the defendant should have declared any savings.

The judge described Phillips as a “dedicated” mother who had previously led an “unblemished” life. He added: “You are 55 and you have never before come anywhere close to getting into trouble.”

Phillips, from Llanharan, Pontyclun, was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Source

29 Nov 2018

Light sentences for blatant benefit fraud

A middle class couple who own two homes worth £660,000 and drive a £25,000 convertible BMW raked in £80,000 in benefits while claiming one had a bad back.

Yvonne Unsworth, 46, and partner Warren Myers, 51, failed to tell the Department of Work and Pensions about their assets while pocketing benefits for employment support allowance and council tax allowance.

The couple, who live in a luxury £450,000 detached property in Whalley, Lancs, ran a photographic business and also owned another £210,000 house in nearby Chorley which they rented out, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Unsworth claimed £71,689 in employment support allowance for over six years after claiming she suffered from depression and a bad back.

Myers claimed £16,349 for acting as her carer while he was running his photographic studio and a further £6,072 in council tax benefit.

Prosecutor Robert Elias said: “This was a blatant fraud. Unsworth claimed over £71,000 over six years which she was not entitled to because she did not reveal that she owned a second property which was being rented out.”

Myers pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstance by receiving earnings above the prescribed limit which he knew would affect his carer’s allowance.

Mr Richard Prew, defending, said Unsworth claimed she couldn’t remember whether she had been asked if she owned other property.

He said the couple, who have a BMW convertible on their drive, had started to pay the money back and were in the process of selling their second house and hoped to raise between £30,000 and £50,000 to repay the DWP.

Recorder Tom Gilbart gave Unsworth a 12 month jail term suspended for 18 months and ordered that she do 25 days of rehabilitation.

She was also made the subject of a 7pm to 6am curfew with an electronic tag.

He told her: "You claimed employment support allowance on the basis that you were unfit to work because of depression and a bad back. You were required to give details about savings and property and the information you gave was quite wrong.”

The judge gave Myers a community order and ordered him to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

Source

30 Oct 2018

Benefit fraudster said he was disabled

A 67-year-old man who was paid benefits of nearly £60,000 after claiming he could hardly walk was photographed jogging up a hill, painting while standing on a rooftop - and sitting astride a Harley Davidson motorbike, a court heard.

Secret surveillance of Anthony Pritchard in February last year 'demonstrated far greater capabilities than he claimed', Gloucester Crown Court was told.

Pritchard, from Thrupp, near Stroud, had claimed Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments by stating he was 'virtually unable to walk', said prosecutor Alun Williams.

Pritchard admitted four offences of benefit fraud between August 2006 and April 2017. He had received £59,211.25 more than he was entitled to, Mr Williams told Judge Michael Cullum.

The prosecutor said two of Pritchard's offences related to him failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions that he was receiving rental income from his property. He received income support and pension credit without revealing that income.

But the 'particularly serious' offences he committed related to him failing to notify the DWP that his 'capabilities had improved and his care needs reduced', Mr Williams said.

Pritchard made the claim for DLA on the basis that he was 'virtually unable to walk' but covert surveillance between February 16 and 28, 2017 'demonstrated far greater capabilities than he claimed', said the prosecutor.

Mr Williams said he was seen 'jogging' to his car up and down a slope of 80 metres, 'unaided, without pain or imbalance'.

Pritchard was also observed 'walking at pace, albeit with a slight limp' and 'visiting B&Q and parking 50 metres from the entrance, ignoring the disabled bay'.

“Finally he was also witnessed on June 11, 2017 at the Gloucester Motor Show, walking along unaided with no assistance,” the prosecutor said. “There is a slight limp but no walking aids.”

Those investigations led the department to request a police search warrant of his address.

“No bedding was found downstairs,” Mr Williams said. “And the garden was neat and tidy.”

The barrister said: “There was photographic evidence of a very full lifestyle. Capabilities far greater than he declared.”

He referred to photos of a 'new motorhome' with bikes mounted on a rear rack, sightseeing trips to the Olympic games in 2012, and of Pritchard on the roof of his extension project getting involved in the painting.

“This was confirmed on his Facebook account,” Mr Williams said. “He is stood on a step ladder with paint roller in his hand.”

The court heard there was a picture from 2013 of him 'sat astride a Harley Davidson, and he had been the registered keeper of a Ducati motorcycle since 2009.

There were also other vehicles that Mr Williams referred to - an MG Coupe, a Ford Motorcaravan, a Vauxhall Combi Van and a Jaguar XK8 convertible.

The barrister said that Pritchard became the registered keeper of a Harley Davidson in 2012, and through MOT checks the investigators established it had covered 4,000 miles between that year and 2017.

“There were also five insurance policies recorded on that motorcycle,” Mr Williams said. “That is at odds with what he claimed of his abilities.”

Mr Williams turned to the fourth count on the indictment relating to PIP, and said: “He phoned the department of work and pensions in December 2016. He verbally answered questions and completed a form subsequently. He said he needed help preparing food, washing bathing, dressing and had other incapacities”

Judge Cullum said that could be interpreted as “dishonest from the start as it does not start until 2016. A dishonest action on that date.”

The court heard that in interview following his arrest Pritchard' maintained his stance, until confronted with evidence.'

Mr Williams said “But then he was obfuscating and sarcastic - challenging the prosecution to prove it.”

Mr Williams said that Pritchard had six previous convictions for fifteen offences, but the most recent was 2007 and 'they must be regarded as spent'.

The prosecutor concluded by saying: “If not a lavish lifestyle, it included a great deal of material wealth, the motorhomes, the sports cars and the motorcycles. We ask that the court proceeds under the proceed of crime act.”

Sarah Jenkins, representing Pritchard said: “He has suffered from a number of different health complaints.”

She said he struggled with anxiety and being in crowded spaces. The trips to the Olympic games were with a partner who 'helps him tolerate situations he could not do on his own'.

“There were periods of time when it seemed to be worse and periods when better,” the lawyer said. “If there was a day when he felt well in the morning he would try and do jobs around the house. When it happened it would only be for a short period of time. If he pushed past that, his condition would feel much worse.

“If he was having a good day, anxiety under control, feeling well, he would take advantage of that.

“There was a definite pattern of health being up and down. Since the investigation begun, there has been a continuing decline in is health. He cannot walk unaided at the moment,” the lawyer said.

She also told the judge that Pritchard was under the care of two specialists due to his present health problems.

“I would ask Your Honour to consider that at 67 with a relatively lengthy period since any offences committed he is not a man that needs to receive an immediate custodial sentence,” she argued. “It could be reflected by a period of custody that is suspended.”

Mrs Jenkins said that as a result of the proceeds of crime procedures, his assets would be liquidised and he faced losing his home.

Probably liquidated. Liquidised seems a new but spectacular penalty.

“He is going to be punished for these offences. The DWP are going to recover that money from him. He owns his own home. That is his life's work. The reality is that will be recovered from him. He does not lead a lavish lifestyle.”

Imposing a suspended jail term, Judge Cullum said: “You are now in decreasing health, and have had matters of ill health for some time. But it certainly did not stop you when you were covertly observed, jogging, walking unaided, and going to B&Q, all in 2017.”

The judge noted that now: “You clearly present as someone who would be wholly incapable of that, but your condition now is of less importance.”

He ruled: “Your disability was very significantly different from what you were portraying. That is the seriousness of this case. You were simply not being honest with the authorities, exaggerating and to be honest and lying.”

The judge told Pritchard by doing this he was doing 'a huge number of people a disservice'.

“Firstly those people who are so often criticised for administering these [benefit assessment] procedures and secondly those who a struggling and striving for these benefits. You take money out of the pot for those that are properly deserving.

“I have to consider stark choice of suspending or not. Bearing in mind all I have read about you, I am satisfied that the balance does mean that this can be a sentence that is suspended. It is to be hoped that every penny will be retrieved from you.”

The judge imposed a nine month jail term suspended for 12 months and fixed a proceeds of crime hearing for March 4 next year.

Source

16 Oct 2018

Sentencing for benefit fraud deferred

A woman has apologised after illegally claiming thousands of pounds in benefits.

Razean Begum Afsar, from Middlesbrough, failed to tell the Department of Works and Pensions that she had more savings than was allowed.

Now the 55-year-old has been brought before Teesside magistrates where she admitted five charges.

But after learning there was a proceeds of crime element to the case the hearing was adjourned to a later date at Teesside Crown Court.

Afsar pleaded guilty to committing fraud in that between February 8, 2013 and April 24, 2013 at Middlesbrough she failed to disclose to the Department for Work and Pensions that she had capital in excess of the permitted limits, intending to make a gain of £1,103.70 in Income Support.

She also admitted that on April 25, 2013 at Middlesbrough she committed fraud by dishonestly making a false representation, in that she had no capital in excess of the permitted limits, intending to make a gain of £2007.60 in Employment Support Allowance.

Further charges of dishonestly making a false statement covering claiming Employment Support Allowance in 2013, Job Seekers Allowance in June 2015 and Income Support in 2015 while having the excess capital were also admitted.

Amy Levitt, defending, told the hearing her client was sorry for what had happened.

She said: “She does wish to express her deep remorse and regret. She is extremely apologetic for her actions.”

Afsar was granted unconditional bail until sentencing at Teesside Crown Court.

Source with picture

12 Oct 2018

High-living couple evaded tax and claimed benefits

A Liverpool couple who dodged tax and swindled benefits to fund a luxury lifestyle have been ordered to repay £355,000.

Bernard Knutsen, 69, and his wife Maureen, 63, ran Chaplin's bar on Lodge Lane and a car garage in the city.

Pictures reveal wads of cash found at their home that they used to fund their expensive tastes and jet-settling high-life.

The couple’s tax-dodging scheme also netted them

  • Trips to the UAE and USA in 2010 followed by a dream trip to the Far East taking in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and India in March 2011.
  • In November 2011, they jetted off to South Africa, followed by more trips to the USA in 2013 and then a holiday to Argentina, The Falklands and Antarctica in 2014 – all totalling £21,000
  • A brand new £24,000 kitchen at their Fell Street Home.
The couple were jailed for a total of seven years for tax and benefit fraud following a joint investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions and Liverpool City Council.

They now face losing their family home and pub – as well as expensive jewellery and tens of thousands of pounds in savings.

At a confiscation hearing led by HMRC at Liverpool Crown Court on October 4, Bernard Knutsen was ordered to repay £323,195 within three months or spend another three years behind bars.

The Knutsen's had thousands of pounds stashed away along with luxury watches and jewelry
£76,459 of this will be paid as compensation to the Department for Work and Pensions. Maureen Knutsen must repay £32,929 within three months or face another year in prison.

Debbie Porter, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The Knutsens lived a jet-set lifestyle paid for by a criminal income from cheating every honest tax payer. The Knutsens lost their liberty because of their greed and now face more time behind bars. HMRC will continue to pursue criminals after conviction to seize their ill-gotten assets.”

They ran Chaplin’s Bar on Lodge Lane and a car repair garage on Hill Street, but failed to pay any VAT, National Insurance or Income Tax while also fraudulently claiming benefits.

A search of their home uncovered a wealth of jewellery, including Rolex watches and Royal Mint gold sovereign coins, as well as bundles of cash totalling almost £40,000 stashed in handbags.

Investigators also found that the couple had a £50,000 endowment policy, and had placed £20,000 into the bank accounts of their grandchildren.

The couple’s daughter Kelly Knutsen, 39, who was sentenced to 21 months suspended for two years for her involvement in the fraud, has been ordered to repay £5,010 within 28 days or face three months in jail.

Kelly Knutsen received unexplained money from both businesses into her bank account and owned a £4,000 Rolex watch.

She also claimed benefit to cover her rent but failed to declare a second property she owned and rented out.

The full £5,010 will be paid to Liverpool City Council as compensation.

Source

4 Oct 2018

Assets concealed in housing benefit fraud

A Renfrewshire man admitted claiming benefits on his mum’s behalf she was not entitled to - by failing to disclose all her savings while having Power of Attorney over her.

Stewart Connelly was authorised to act on behalf of his mother, Amelia Connelly, from Renfrew, between June 2015 and February this year.

He told Renfrewshire Council she had a bank account which contained £6,367 in savings, but she actually had six other accounts and savings totalling more than £43,000, taking her over the £16,000 allowance for people being allowed to claim Housing Benefit.

This led her to obtain £12,000 in Housing Benefit she was not entitled to.

The Department of Work and Pensions launched an investigation after it received a tip-off his mother had more in savings than had been submitted.

The probe revealed the extra £37,000 in her accounts and led to Stewart, 56, being prosecuted. At Paisley Sheriff Court last week, he admitted his guilt.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Pamela Flynn told the court a claim had been made on Mrs Connelly’s behalf in 2015 - before Stewart got Power of Attorney over her.

She said: “On October 28, 2016, the accused reported a change of circumstances. He advised her savings had slightly changed.”

He informed the DWP she had around £6,300 in savings but did not mention her other six accounts.
Miss Flynn added: “There was a referral to the DWP alleging his mother had savings. They made enquiries with Halifax Bank of Scotland and found with them seven accounts, with a total of £43,000 within.”

Defence solicitor Manus Tolland said Connelly had been living in London but had moved back to Scotland and was given the legal power over his mother, who passed away last month. He said Connelly “didn’t make proper investigations” into his mother’s finances and the money had since been repaid.

Sheriff Seith Ireland called for background reports to be prepared ahead of sentencing, and confirmation on whether the sum had been paid back, and adjourned the case until later this month.

Source

28 Sep 2018

Benefits investigator helped benefit fraudster husband

The Clacton benefit fraudsters have come up for sentence. They have been given suspended sentences, but she lost her job (as a benefits fraud investigator!) and they got their pictures in the papers, which probably hurt more.

Paul Stevens, 70, wrongly claimed almost £20,000.

He was helped by his wife — herself a benefit fraud investigator.

Stevens told the Department for Work and Pensions that he needed help bathing, dressing, cooking and getting in and out of bed. He said he was in constant pain, needed crutches to get around and could walk only 40 to 60 yards at a time after suffering severe back pain for more than 20 years.

But DWP investigators got footage of him messing around on the zip wire in a play park. He was also filmed pruning a tree with a saw and kneeling as he gardened.

Stevens, whose benefits claim was genuine at the outset, later admitted walking up to 1,000  yards.

He was assisted in his fraud by wife Alexandra, 49 — a DWP investigator.

She said she only filled in the forms as directed by him. But a court heard she helped him “cut corners” and he started to claim Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence to which he was not entitled.

The couple also inherited £240,000.

The couple, of Clacton, Essex, were convicted of fraud.

They have now been given suspended sentences at Chelmsford crown court.

Alexandra lost her DWP job in July.

Source with pictures

17 Sep 2018

Alcoholic managed £43k benefit fraud

An alcoholic who swindled £43,000 in benefits splashed out on a holiday to Thailand and Singapore, a court heard.

Lying Lorraine Deadman, aged 62, then told investigators that she thought she had “got away with it”.

Deadman failed to disclose her husband had moved back in while pocketing two types of benefit for more than three years.

She also did not mention an £18,000 inheritance a few months before the long-haul break, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

A judge said that it was “quite a bad case of its type.”

Handing her a suspended jail term, Recorder Jonathan Barnes added: “I would have been justified in sending you to prison but you have significant health problems, you are of good character and for some reason Colin Deadman has not been prosecuted in these matters.”

Prosecutors say her husband sold his house without telling the authorities and hid the fact he was living with her.

Lorraine Deadman, from Stonehouse, pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly failing to inform the DWP and Plymouth City Council of a change of circumstances affecting her claims.

She admitted failing to promptly notify them she was living with Colin Deadman between November 2013 and March last year.

She claimed housing benefit and employment support allowance in the sum of £43,253.

Mike Brown, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said she started claiming housing benefit in 2011 and employment support allowance in September 2013. He said she declared she was jobless and living on her own.

Mr Brown added that Mr Deadman moved in during November 2013, bringing with him his pension.

The barrister said he had not declared the sale of his own home and tried to conceal that he was living with his wife. He added that investigators found he paid some of the bills at the defendant’s home.

Mr Brown said Deadman also lied on annual forms where she was meant to update her details. He added she failed to declare an inheritance of £18,000 at the end of 2013.

The barrister said Deadman had a holiday in Singapore and Thailand early the next year.

The Crown is starting legal action under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize any assets.

Will Willden, barrister for Deadman, said: “She has for the best part of her life been addicted to alcohol at a very severe level.”

He added she had struggled to cope with the death of her young son and suffered poor health. She had managed to stay out of trouble until this offence.

Mr Willden said that she and Mr Deadman had already paid back more than £5,000. He told the court she had no assets and the legacy had gone, but was continuing to make contributions of £100 a month.

He said: “There is a positive outlook and she has been abstinent for some time.”

Deadman was handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 20 days of intensive probation supervision.

She must stick to a three-month curfew for seven days a week between 6am and 6pm.

Source with picture