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Showing posts with label asylum seekers benefit fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label asylum seekers benefit fraud. Show all posts

11 Jun 2015

Tip-off reveals £11k housing benefit fraud

A woman who fraudulently claimed more than £11,000 in housing benefits concealed the fact that she was the owner of a property. (h/t Dave)

Appearing before Croydon magistrates, Sarah Wood, formerly of Calley Down Crescent, New Addington, pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud and was sentenced to 26 weeks’ jail, suspended for 12 months.

The court heard that the 52-year-old, currently living in Great Yarmouth, failed to notify Croydon Council’s benefits department, when making a claim for housing benefit, that she owned a house in Windham Avenue, New Addington, that had been given to her by her late father in August 2007.

In September 2010, she completed a claim form for housing benefit and council tax, stating that she did not “own any property in the UK or abroad”. She then signed a declaration confirming that the information she had provided was correct and complete.

Between September 2010 and October 2013, she received a total overpayment amounting to £11,553.84, the deception coming to light when the council’s corporate anti-fraud team received an anonymous tip-off.

Subsequent investigations at the Land Registry revealed that she had owned the Windham Avenue property for more than five years before selling it in January 2013.

Councillor Alison Butler, cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “Housing benefit is there to help those in need provide a home for themselves and their families. It’s the council’s duty to protect much-needed resources and ensure that they go to residents who quite rightly require them. This case should be a wake-up call to anybody who’s defrauding, or contemplating defrauding, the council.

“They may get away with it for a little while but, sooner or later, their criminal behaviour will be found out, and we will prosecute them. In this case, our investigations team, reacting to a tip-off, pursued the matter, brought it to light and then – to her substantial cost – took the matter to court where she was given a stain on her character in the form of a criminal record.”

Piffle, Councillor Butler! You only followed up a tip-off.

17 Jul 2014

Spotlight on asylum seeker fraud

An asylum seeker who claimed they were 'destitute' to get thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money was found to have £74,000 in cash and illegal wages.

The scandal was unearthed by the immigration watchdog in a damning report which exposed widespread fraud in the refugee system.

John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, said asylum fraud cost taxpayers £1.2 million a year. But he warned that the true amount was likely to be 'substantially higher'.

Mr Vine said the Government was failing to tackle asylum seekers ripping off the taxpayers.

The largest fraud seen by the chief inspector saw an asylum seeker handed £18,000 in support, while pocketing £74,000 from other benefits and wages from working on the side. The unnamed claimant was caught, but avoided jail - receiving a 12 month suspended sentence for fraud - and was not even asked to repay the cash even though they had £10,500 in savings.

Another asylum seeker and her husband illegally pocketed £11,000 in child benefit and child tax credit. The pair saved £10,000 of the benefits - but were only ordered to repay £6,000.

Another supposedly destitute asylum seeker who was found with two laptops, a TV, several mobile phones and an exercise machine.

Destitute asylum seekers can apply for 'asylum support' once they have been allowed to stay in the country. They can get free accommodation plus £36 a week if they are single or £72 for a couple. But as part of the deal they are not allowed to claim other benefits. The system costs £155 million a year - supporting 26,731 asylum seekers.

In his report, Mr Vine said:
I found no evidence that the Home Office had an effective strategy to identify and tackle fraud in the asylum support system. Work had not been undertaken to determine what its exposure to fraud risk was.

No attempt had been made to ensure fraud and compliance teams operated in a consistent manner and there were insufficient resources dedicated to this work. As a result opportunities to identify and deter those wishing to commit fraud were lost.

Almost half of my recommendations in this report relate to improvements in tackling fraud. The Home Office must ensure these are implemented swiftly and effectively.