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

30 Sep 2019

Claimant said she was a single parent

A woman from Burgess Hill has been convicted of benefit fraud after failing to disclose, for two years, that she was no longer a single parent living alone, according to the district council. Mid-Sussex District Council said Briony Nunne, 27, dishonestly claimed more than £18,600 in income support.

Mrs Nunne was claiming support from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and council tax support and housing benefit from the district council 'on the basis that she was a single parent living alone', a spokesperson said.

However, in February 2017, she married Michael Nunne and 'failed to tell relevant authorities about her change in circumstances'.

The spokesperson added: "The DWP received a fraud allegation on June 16, 2017 stating that the claimant and her partner has been together for at least two years. A subsequent investigation revealed this to be the case and the DWP prosecuted Mrs Dunne for benefit fraud."

The district council said that, on August 13 this year, Mrs Nunne pleaded guilty at Horsham Magistrates Court to dishonestly making a statement or representation to the DWP and Mid Sussex District Council with a view to obtaining a benefit, advantage or other payment.

The spokesperson added: "Mrs Nunne was sentenced to a 12-month community order, which requires her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community. She was also given a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement, ordering her to complete activities that are designed to reduce the prospect of her re-offending.

"The court ordered Mrs Nunne to pay the DWP costs of £170 and a victim surcharge of £85."

Mrs Nunne is also required to pay back all the overpaid income support, council tax support and housing benefit, the district council confirmed.

Councillor Ruth De Mierre, cabinet member for customer services said: “The council will always take firm action against the very small minority of benefit claimants who seek to cheat and be a drain on the wallets and purses of our law abiding Mid Sussex residents.

Source

28 Sep 2019

DWP nodded through fatuous claim

Read this and ask yourself, what does it take for the DWP to refuse a claim?

A mum stole £15,000 of benefits by claiming her disabled son was "hiding in the loft" when he had actually moved 7,000 miles away to the Philippines.

June Roberts lied to the authorities to bankroll Paul Roberts, 45, who had in fact jetted off to Southeast Asia to start a new life.

The 65-year-old, from St Helens, acted as the appointee for her son, who has schizophrenia, when making claims on his behalf in 2016.

Paul was said to be unable to work through ill-health and to have both severe mobility difficulties and significant care needs.

His Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) were paid direct into his bank account.

But he booked a flight to the Philippines in May 2017 - where he then married - and never came back to Merseyside.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) rang Mrs Roberts in a review of his case that July.

She claimed he couldn't come to the phone because he was "hiding in the loft" and the dishonest scam continued undetected.

Paul continued to regularly withdraw cash in the Philippines until the DWP was alerted to a possible fraud and stopped his benefits.

On November 9, 2018, Mrs Roberts was interviewed and asked if she knew her son had moved to the Philippines.

She claimed: "Not really. Because Paul lives at home, he's at home now."

Mrs Roberts then conceded he may have been on holiday there for a few weeks, before admitting he had married out there.

The officer asked why she hadn't told a DWP official in the July phone call that her son was really halfway across the globe.

She said: "I can't remember. I honestly thought he was upstairs in the loft because I shouted down to him to answer the phone."

Roberts, who now admits this was yet another lie, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud. She has no previous convictions.

Zillah Williams, defending, said her client had back problems but assured the court she was willing to do suitable unpaid work. She said Roberts had already paid about £4,000 back to the DWP and that she "made no financial benefit from this whatsoever".

Ms Williams said: "She feels extremely let down by her son, who has absolved himself of any responsibility it appears, even though he was the one who took himself out of the country, against her better wishes, and has made no contribution to repay her. Mr Roberts who sits at the back of court is equally dismayed by his son's actions."

Ms Williams said Roberts was made her son's appointee in 2007 and couldn't remember signing the form to do so.

Judge McKone handed her a 12-month community order with 180 hours of unpaid work.

Simon Tunnicliffe, of the Crown Prosecution Service's Fraud Unit, said Roberts committed a "substantial fraud":
Her claims to have told her son to come down from the loft to answer the phone when he was in fact in the Philippines were ludicrous. He'd been withdrawing cash from the Philippines and it was clear his mother was helping him. 

She'd contested a rejected PIP claim on the basis that Paul couldn't move about at all. He was living in another continent.

As Paul's appointee, she was responsible for letting the authorities know if his circumstances changed. She didn't and may never have done so if the authorities hadn't caught up with her.
A Proceeds of Crime timetable has been set up to recoup the money that was dishonestly claimed.

More with pictures

6 Jun 2019

Benefit fraud takes years to reach court

This is an example of how the benefits fraud enforcement system is overwhelmed - so overwhelmed that it is really just there for show. 

This offender's over-claiming was reported back in 2016. He was interviewed in 2017. But his case doesn't reach court until 2019. 

How many millions does this flabby, under-resourced benefit fraud enforcement cost us each year?

And notice that his offending wasn't detected by officials. The fraud was only revealed  by a tip off.

A benefit cheat who found work after suffering a 'very unpleasant' work accident at Wythenshawe Hospital has been spared jail.

Arthur Postill, 65, claimed £36,099 in several benefits which he was not entitled to, Manchester Crown Court heard.

He was caught out after undercover officers launched a surveillance operation.

The claims were legitimate at the start, but Postill, from Altrincham, failed to inform the authorities that he had started casual work with a cleaning company.

The court was told that in 2002 Postill suffered 'significant' injuries in an accident at work at the south Manchester hospital, affecting his ability to work.

He would have been entitled to some smaller amount of benefits if he had declared the work, the court was told.

From November 2010 to March 2016, when he was detected, Postill claimed more than £17,000 in disability living allowance, more than £6,000 in incapacity benefit, more than £5,000 in employment support allowance, £180 in job seeker's allowance and more than £6,000 in housing benefit.

The total of fraudulent claims was £36,099, prosecutor Bob Golinski said. He told how an investigation was launched after the benefit fraud hotline was tipped off about Postill.

Officers found that he was working in some capacity for a contract cleaning company, work which affected his entitlement to benefits. He worked driving cleaners around, transporting items and also working as a cleaner himself, the court was told.

When he was interviewed in February 2017, Postill was shown images of him working and accepted the man in the pictures was him.

Postill has previous convictions, but the last recorded offences were more than 20 years ago for driving matters.

Defending, Rachel White said Postill was taking part in casual work for the company through family connections, as the firm was run by his sister in law.

She pointed out that Postill has been 'out of trouble for many many years', and asked that the defendant be allowed to walk free from court.

Judge Martin Rudland agreed, handing down a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Postill must also complete 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

The judge told him: "I am prepared to accept you are a man who has hitherto led a stable and decent life, apart from those blemishes a a younger man. I don't doubt, Mr Postill, that the courts will never see you again."

Postill previously pleaded guilty to six counts of benefit fraud.

Source with picture

20 May 2019

Benefits agencies are 'overburdened and have over-stretched resources'

A benefits cheat has been ordered to pay back nearly £88,000 she wrongly claimed while living in Spain, but not until the year 2977.

Jayne Kitching, 53, is paying back the amount she defrauded at a rate of just £7.65 per month, Grimsby Crown Court has heard.

At the rate agreed by the Department of Work and Pensions and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, it would take 958 and a half years, or up to the year 2977.

Based upon the average life expectancy of 80 for a Grimsby woman, that could leave a total of £84,683 unpaid.

In court the mother of two admitted cheating the public revenue between July 2013 and August 2016.

She obtained income support, disability living allowance and carer's allowance having failed to tell authorities she had moved to Spain.

Kitching also admitted taking tax credit from HMRC between September 2013 and April 2017 and failing to failing to let agencies in the UK know that her children had been taken into care in Spain.

Prosecuting Nigel Clive said she claimed the benefits while living in Spain with her children. She did not tell agencies in the UK she had moved abroad.

Mr Clive said her children were taken from her and placed in the care of local authorities in Spain.

He said: 'The money she claimed was used for ordinary day-to-day living costs and to pay Spanish legal teams over her childcare claims. There was no lavish lifestyle.'

The children were not returned to her until April 2017 and the prosecutor said she has so far paid back £400.

He said: 'She gets £2,000-a-month now. She is repaying at £7.65 per month and there is no indication that she has any form of assets.'

The court was told she is the registered carer for one of her teenage children.

For Kitching, Craig Lowe said his client 'cuts a disconsolate and pathetic' figure.

He said: 'She is not the most intelligent of individuals and there was no prospect of success. It was only a matter of time before she was caught.'

Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC questioned why authorities had not detected her claiming benefits while living in Spain. He asked: 'How would they know if she was living in Doncaster, or Grimsby or Malaga?'

Mr Clive said she had posted on Facebook how much she was looking forward to moving to Spain with her two teenage children and said the DWP had been tipped off.

Recorder Iqbal imposed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

He said he was doing so as 'an act of mercy towards her children' and to avoid them having to be taken into care. He said: 'I hope you are thoroughly ashamed of your dishonesty.'

He added benefits agencies in the UK are 'overburdened and have over-stretched resources' which she had taken from dishonestly.

Kitching has also been ordered to undergo 20 days of rehabilitation.

Source with pictures

26 Apr 2019

Light sentence for disability benefit fraud

A fraudster from Bridgnorth who pocketed more than £16,000 saying he could barely walk has been caught out by investigators who were tipped off that his benefits claim was just not cricket. (h/t Dave)

Department of Work and Pensions investigators secretly filmed cricketer Kenneth Hodgson for two-and-a-half hours while he fielded in various positions and for long periods on August 17, 2017.

He was pictured arriving at the ground carrying a fully-laden cricket bag before practising throwing and catching during the warm-up.

Then the 45-year-old was seen diving to stop the ball, chasing after it and throwing it the wicket keeper while spending 40 overs in the field, during which he enthusiastically encouraged team mates before being replaced by the 12th man.

Scorecards and records suggested he had been playing for Highley Cricket Club since 2013, though he insisted he did not actually play for a team until the following year, maintaining his name had been used by unsigned players.

He eventually confessed to investigators that since starting to play he had batted and bowled when required as well as fielding.

Hodgson had been receiving Disability Living Allowance, later called Personal Independence Payment, since 2008 but claimed in a self assessment renewal form which he signed on August 10, 2010: "I have to walk everywhere with my elbow crutches."

The statement continued: "On good days crutches are sufficient but on bad days I need more support hence I do not go outdoors, so stay in."

He said he had four crumbling spinal discs and nerve damage to his legs which meant he was unable to walk more than four metres very slowly without experiencing "severe discomfort".

The statement maintained his legs would just "give way," leading to him falling every week and needing someone to help him back on his feet "stage by stage".

Hodgson also detailed his difficulties getting in and out of the bath and explained the problems he encountered while trying to stand to make meals.

He told the Examining Medical Practitioner in January 2011 that he only went out "once a week to watch his son play rugby".

The form warned he must report any improvement in his condition, but he said nothing to the DWP until a tip-off triggered an investigation which uncovered the truth about the double dealing sportsman who, it was alleged, was overpaid up to £16,449 in benefits he had not been entitled to between May 3, 2014 and April 24, 2018.

Hodgson admitted failing to notify change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit at Telford Magistrates Court yesterday.

Shakel Ahmed, defending, said Hodgson has been paying the money back directly to the DWP for the last 12 months.

Mr Ahmed said: “He was unable to manage his condition, but it improved with medication.”

Magistrates gave him a 12-month community order, 60 hours unpaid work and ordered him to pay court and prosecution costs and a victim surcharge totalling £405.

A DWP spokesman said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this show how we are catching those who cheat the system and divert taxpayers' money from the people 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 pictures

8 Apr 2019

Light sentence for deliberate benefit fraud

A mum who claimed she needed a wheelchair claimed £20,000 in disability benefits was pictured doing the splits - while training for kickboxing tournaments.

Tammy Horton,31, claimed her chronic pelvic disease and fibromyalgia meant she could barely walk with sticks.

She said she was stuck in her pyjamas all day because it was too painful to get dressed and could not even collect her own prescriptions.

But the mum posted pictures of her in a gym while she trained daily with two local kickboxing clubs.

She regularly appeared in her local paper after winning medals in bouts - and even posted pictures of her out clubbing with pals on a hen-do.

DWP officers were tipped off and began investigating the fighter, who was claiming disability living allowance and Personal Independent Payment (PIP).

During a two-year period they found she competed in the 2016 CIMAC British Open, at Windsor, and Northamptonshire Open tournament.

She won a silver medal at a tournament in Solihull in January 2017 competing for the Boston Evolution Martial Arts Club.

The following month she was a runner-up in her category at an international event held at Watford. She also competed for a Spilsby club.

Lisa Hardy, prosecuting, told Lincoln crown court “She claimed disability living allowance and subsequently PIPs over a three year period. She said she had serious and chronic conditions. She said she was limited to walking with crutches or using a wheelchair and that she was on morphine to control the pain.”

Miss Hardy said that back in October 2014 the DWP received a complaint that Horton’s benefit claim was fictitious but at the time she told investigators that the complaint was malicious.

She said: “In February 2015 she made a claim for PIP. A health assessor came out to see her and she confirmed the extent of her illness. She completed a lengthy application process and in interview she had such severe pelvic inflammatory disease that it affected her mobility.

“She said she was in constant pain every day. She said she did her food shopping online or sometimes would do click and collect."

She said her husband would collect her prescription. She told how she would live in her pyjamas for the majority of the day because it was too painful to get dressed, Lincoln crown court heard.

“She said she didn’t like going out because she was too anxious. She said she would struggle to walk more than 20 metres. She was asked to perform a number of physical tasks which she said she could not complete. As a result she was awarded PIP.

“An investigation subsequently showed that Miss Horton as far back as January 2014 had in fact joined a kickboxing club and was a regular member. She received grading certificates and competed in competitions. This was a lady who expressed that she needed an extra banister fitted just to be able to get up and down stairs.

“She was placed under surveillance. That showed her driving to drop off her children at school and shopping. She was seen walking independently without support.

“She was brought in for interview but denied claiming any benefits dishonestly. She said her pain varied but was always there. She said she had attended kickboxing clubs in Spilsby and Boston saying that it gave her mental focus.

“This was a deliberate misrepresentation given to the health assessor. The answers were very detailed. They were backed up in interview verbally and on paper.”

In total she received benefits totalling £21,928 to which she was not entitled.

Judge Andrew Easteal, passing sentence, accused her of "extraordinary arrogance" and "deceit," adding: "This was a planned, detailed, gross deception that went on for several years. It was just inexcusable.”

Horton, from Stickney, Lincs, admitted charges of failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstance between 5 February 2014 and 25 March 2015.

She also admitted making a false statement to obtain PIP between 25 March 2015 and 10 May 2017. She was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for two years.

Source with picture

So no real punishment.

22 Feb 2019

Man illegally claimed council tax support

A Plymouth man must carry out 160 hours of community service after admitting to quitting his social housing property whilst he still claimed council tax support.

Lloyd Herbert, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud at Plymouth Magistrates Court.

In light of his early guilty plea, he was sentenced to a 12 month community order of 160 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay costs of £450 and a victim surcharge of £85.

The court heard how Herbert had been renting a house from Plymouth Community Homes in Ipswich Close, Whitleigh, whilst receiving Council Tax support from the council.

Following a tip off from a neighbour, Herbert was interviewed under caution in October 2017. It was ultimately discovered that Herbert had moved out of Ipswich Close in August 2016, and had failed to notify Plymouth Community Homes.

He had also continued to claim Council Tax support for the property for the same period, despite living elsewhere.

Councillor Sally Haydon, cabinet member for customer focus and community safety, said: "The council is currently supporting a number of individuals and families to live in temporary accommodation while they wait for a permanent residence. That is why it's so important that we pursue and punish those who are dishonest.

"Lloyd Herbert could have given up his property and put it back into the system for others but instead he chose to keep hold of this property for his own benefit when he knew that he was no longer entitled to it."

This does raise the question of what was happening in the property while Herbert was living elsewhere.

Fran Sandercock, PCH senior housing officer, said: "We want to make sure the right people are in the right homes. Social housing is at a premium and many families in need are waiting for accommodation. We're working hard to prevent tenancy fraud and residents and neighbours can help by reporting anything suspicious."

Source

13 Feb 2019

Light sentence for illegal sub-letting

A Cheltenham man has been fined nearly £500 for illegally sub-letting his flat.

John Stevens, 55, had been a long time tenant of his Newton Road social housing flat, but moved out to live with his girlfriend and did not tell the landlord.

At the same time, Stevens rented the flat out to a friend, illegally sub-letting the Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH) property.

Following a tip-off, Stevens was visited by CBH officers and terminated his tenancy on the flat shortly after, but not before his crime was brought to light.

CBH prosecuted him under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.

Stevens told Cheltenham Magistrates' Court that he thought he was helping a friend by allowing them to stay at his flat.

The magistrates took his guilty plea and means into account ahead of handing out their sentence. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £50 towards prosecution costs.

The flat was quickly re-let to new tenants who had been waiting for a property to become available.

Caroline Walker, head of community services at CBH, said: “Illegal sub-letting of social houses prevents people who genuinely need them from getting access to homes. This is a good result for us, not least because it helped to give a home to someone but also because it sends a strong message to people considering sub-letting. We will find out and you will be prosecuted.”

Source

7 Jan 2019

Benefit cheat weeps throughout hearing

A benefit cheat who illegally claimed more than £10,000 while working at a care home broke down in tears as she was sentenced.

Jodie Watson claimed she had a bad back and required medical treatment, a court heard.

The 31-year-old initially made a legitimate Personal Independence Payment claim, citing medication for a prolapsed disc.

The benefit can be claimed by people in work.

But due to the scoring system, Watson's solicitor admitted: "She probably wouldn't have been entitled to it at the time she returned to work."

Watson was charged after a DWP investigator received a tip-off about her situation.

At North Tyneside Magistrates' Court, she pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify about a change in circumstances.

The court heard she claimed the cash over a 17 month period between 2016 and 2017.

The prosecutor said: "She was aware she must inform of any changes about her circumstances", adding Watson took a "significant" sum.

However her solicitor argued that in the context of benefit fraud, the amount "wasn't excessive".

"This is a case which is a little bit unfortunate," he added. "The defendant in this case made a legitimate claim initially."

The court heard Watson now has "much better movement and control" than at the time of her claim after taking medication.

Watson, from Sunderland, wept throughout the hearing as magistrates warned her she faced up to 36 weeks in prison. But after hearing she was "remorseful" for her actions, the bench instead ordered her to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Chair of the bench Gordon Wanless said: "It is the public purse that you defrauded."

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

14 Jun 2018

Woman on benefits didn't declare inheritance

A woman took her family on a £15,000 Disneyland holiday while falsely claiming benefits after failing to mention to the authorities she had inherited more than £170,000.

Christine Angell, 61, fraudulently claimed nearly £50,000 in housing benefit and employment and support allowance, telling investigators she did not think she was obliged to declare "gifts".

Speaking at Cardiff Crown Court , her counsel Aled Watkins said she "buried her head in the sand".

The court heard she wrongly claimed a total of £47,315.97 over a five-and-a-half-year period.

Jeffrey Jones, prosecuting, said the DWP received information that she had "hidden capital" while claiming benefits.

Prosecutors said the benefits were paid on the basis that she would inform the authorities of any changes in her circumstances affecting her entitlement to claim but she made repeated false declarations.

The court heard there was an investigation and the DWP found she was receiving large sums of money, which she did not bring to their attention.

Mr Jones said Angell inherited significant amounts from her brother and partner. Investigators found she had five bank accounts with NatWest and received nearly £40,000 on April 13, 2012, followed by another £20,000, then £15,000 a month later.

In December the following year £50,000 was deposited in her account followed by another £47,000. Prosecutors said she was also receiving regular monthly payments of about £1,000, and sometimes as much as £3,750, from her brother's assets in Switzerland.

The court heard she took her family on holiday to Disneyland, costing £15,000, and there was a second holiday to Orlando.

Angell was interviewed on June 16 last year and denied doing anything wrong. The court heard her brother died in 2008 and her partner died in 2011.

She accepted she had inherited from them but believed she did not have to disclose the amounts as they were "gifts".

Mr Jones said the money was "depleted" and there was no point in the DWP pursuing confiscation proceedings to try and get it back. He made an application for £340 towards prosecution costs.

Prosecutors said they could not argue that she led a "lavish lifestyle" but drew the court's attention to the holidays.

Angell admitted three counts of benefit fraud. Mr Watkins said she had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He said she took her family on holiday because her partner stated he wanted his money to be spent on the family. Mr Watkins added: "She felt obliged and complied with his wish."

The court heard she was grieving at the time of the offending and was prescribed medication for depression.

Angell's counsel said she has multiple health problems and brought a bag of medication to court as she has to take 12 different tablets a day, including morphine. Mr Watkins added: "Coming to court today has been a very difficult process for her."

He said the case had been "hanging over her head" since June last year and she was told the money would be deducted from her benefits.

Judge Michael Fitton QC asked whether issues surrounding her health had been raised with the Prison Service.

He said he was considering an immediate custodial sentence of around 10 months meaning she would spend five months behind bars.

The judge adjourned the case for further inquiries to be made into the likely short-term and long-term impacts on her health of immediate custody and whether the prison would be able to provide necessary treatment.

She was granted bail until the next hearing on July 4 and warned that bail was no indication as to sentence.

Source with picture

16 Jan 2018

Predictable left-wing benefit fraud bias from The Independent

More than 280,000 public tip-offs on benefit fraud in the past two years have resulted in no action being taken against a claimant due to lack of evidence, The Independent can disclose.

The revelation has led to claims the Government is guilty of creating a “witch-hunt”, with critics calling on ministers to re-evaluate the contentious system, suggesting members of the public should not have a role in identifying and investigating fraud within the welfare state.

Through the DWP Fraud and Error Service, members of the public can log their suspicions about those they believe are committing benefit fraud.

Details can be reported either through a fraud hotline or online, and include eye colour, piercings, scars, age, national insurance number, email address, nickname and date of birth.

But information obtained by The Independent through freedom of information laws reveals that over the financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17, 332,850 cases were closed following reports by members of the public. Of these, 287,950 were found to have no or little evidence to substantiate the claim – or 87 per cent.

When no further is action is taken by the department against a claimant because there is no or insufficient evidence of fraud discovered, the case is recorded as a “no result outcome”.

In March 2017, for example, out of 18,200 allegations from members of the public closed by the department, 16,050 led to a “no result outcome”. This means that around 88 per cent of the total allegations made in one single month had little or no evidence of benefit fraud having taken place and the cases were dropped. Overall in the year 2016-17, nearly 174,000 allegations were closed and 149,450 – or 86 per cent – were incorrect allegations.

The data appears to show that members of the public are overestimating the issue of benefit fraud in Britain and that the Government’s policy of using tip-offs is much less effective than many are led to believe.

Or it could be that the system is ponderous and investigators are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. Of course there will be some malicious allegations, but many will be based on local observation on the ground.

Here we go with left-wing opposition reactions.

Responding to the figures, Debbie Abrahams, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Any fraud or abuse of our social security system should be dealt with quickly and proportionately. However, the Conservative Government have long directly and indirectly implied that all recipients are ‘shirkers and skivers’. The punitive way the Tories have delivered social security policies, such as sanctions and fitness for work assessments, reflects this approach. What these figures show is how flimsy the ground is for this divisive rhetoric. The Government should instead focus on getting their own house in order and tackle the failing PIP [Personal Independence Payment] and ESA [Employment and Support Allowance] assessments as well as pausing and fixing their botched Universal Credit roll-out.”

Neil Gray, the SNP MP and the party’s social justice spokesperson, said that while those who abuse the system should be dealt with, the “responsibility of identifying and investigating benefit fraud should be with the DWP, not your neighbours. These new figures show the Tories are guilty of creating a witch-hunt which demonises low-paid workers relying on tax credits and the sick and disabled who are unable to work. It’s another example of the Tories dividing communities as neighbours become suspicious of each other.”

Of course if the masses couldn't report suspicions of benefit fraud, they would just settle back into dumb contentment, no?

And Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the scale of benefit fraud “is not remotely comparable to the industrial-scale problem of tax avoidance by big corporations and the extremely wealthy. Yet the Conservatives seem to think they can get more money back by using far fewer resources getting people to act as sneaks, turning people against each other.”

A spokesperson for the DWP said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants commit fraud, but those who do are diverting support from people who need it the most. Calls to the fraud hotline are vital in tackling this crime – and information from the public helped us detect more than £45m in benefit fraud in 2016 alone.”

Previous data, covering the years 2010 to 2015, found that the DWP closed 1,041,219 alleged cases of benefit fraud from members of the public. Of these, 887,468 were recorded as a “no result” outcome – or 85 per cent.

According to Government data in 2017, fraud in the benefit system accounted for 1.2 per cent of the entire DWP budget, amounting to just over £2bn. But as well as individuals, it is estimated that criminal gangs have also been abusing the system to the tune of tens of millions of pounds. Until recently, the DWP often used advertising to persuade members of the public to come forward and use the Government’s hotline if they suspected neighbours and other members of the public to be committing benefit fraud, telling them they had a “role” to play in stopping such activity.

Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, added: “The vast majority of people claiming benefits simply need support but all too often what they get is suspicion and scapegoating as scroungers. It’s time we saw our welfare system as a valuable part of a strong future facing economy and no longer encouraging friends, neighbours and colleagues to treat one another with suspicion could be a positive step in the right direction.”

It's remarkable how left-wing politicians regard people as malleable. Take away the chance to report suspects, and people won't mind at all, these politicians suggest.

The politicians might instead ask how the ponderous DWP investigators manage to make so little of this detailed, on the ground knowledge.


Source

3 Oct 2017

No jail for repeat £58k benefit fraudster

A Beeston woman lied about her marital status in order to make illegal claims for almost £60,000 in benefits.

Linda Philllips, 61, lied to authorities that she was single to make false claims for tax credits, housing and council tax benefit for five years

Leeds Crown Court heard that throughout that period, between 2010 and 2015, her husband Steven lived with her. The scam came to light after a tip-off that he was in their home while she was out at work.

Robert Stevenson, prosecuting, said Phillips filled in official forms on a number of occasions but failed to complete the section which referred to her having a partner.

It was later discovered that her husband had the same address listed with financial institutions and had her listed as his next of kin with his employer. Over the period of offending Phillips claimed £39,115 in tax credits and £19,810 in housing and council tax benefits. Phillips pleaded guilty to two offences of benefit fraud. She has a similar conviction dating back to 2007. Phillips had no legal representation in court but said she was sorry for what she had done when asked to comment.

A probation officer told the court that Phillips was a carer for her two grandchildren.

The officer said Phillips had described her relationship with her husband as “unpredictable” and she was often unsure how long he would stay at home with her.

Phillips was given an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.

So what punishment did she get, exactly?

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29 Jun 2017

How nice: benefit cheat is still on benefits

A benefits cheat from Derby who said she "was virtually unable to walk" was caught out - when it was discovered she was a drummer in a marching band.

Rhona Vessey told the Department of Work and Pensions she "could only walk 20 metres without getting out of breath" and "felt anxious if people looked at her" when she was out.

The 50-year-old, of Little Eaton, also said she often "could not carry a shopping bag" because of her physical impairments.

But, following a tip-off from a member of the public, investigators carried out undercover surveillance on Vessey and on three occasions watched as she banged a drum with the marching band.

Handing her a 10-week community order, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "This is not a victimless crime because there is no bottomless pit of money that people can fraudulently claim from. You claimed benefits you were not entitled to and the reality is that society and the courts take a serious view on crimes like this. You made the claim and then participated in marching activities with others."

Lynn Bickley, prosecuting at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court said Vessey submitted a benefits claim on October 3, 2014 and continued receiving money, which totalled £6,251.04, until October 26 the following year.

She said: "We says this was a claim that was dishonest from the outset. She made the claim saying she was virtually unable to walk, needed attention to her leg three times during the day and prolonged attention during the night. In her claim she said she could only walk between 20 and 50 metres without getting out of breath. She said often she could not go outside her front door, or go to shops and supermarkets on her own. She said she could often not use shopping bags and felt anxious if people looked at her when she was outside. But information was received that she was a member of a marching band and regularly took part in lengthy and complex marching routines."

Miss Bickley said investigators for the DWP went to spy on Vessey, to see if the allegations were founded. She said: "The result of the surveillance was that on three occasions she was observed marching in the band with a drum strapped to her shoulder and there were no limitations on her mobility."

Vessey was interviewed and claimed her claim was genuine and that her condition was getting worse. But she later pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and the court was told she is currently paying back the money she illegally claimed.

Judge Taaffe ordered that she pay £85 costs, an £85 victim surcharge and handed her a 10 week curfew, confining her to her address between 7pm and 7am each day.

Peter Jones, for Vessey, said his client had lost her husband "relatively recently" and is currently jointly claiming employment support allowance with her new partner.

He said: "This is a lady that feels great shame that she before the court." He said she understood that it was wrong for her to not reveal she was playing in a marching band.

Source with pictures

13 Apr 2017

"Single" benefit cheat posted wedding on Facebook

Every so often, someone claims benefits on the basis that they are single, when they're not. They then splash news of their wedding or honeymoon on Facebook, making their single parent benefit fraud rather obvious. Dave has noticed this latest example.

A woman who fraudulently claimed benefits as a single mother for nearly three years was caught when she posted her wedding photographs on Facebook.

Chanice Bowen, 25, of Barry, had told the Department for Work and Pensions she and her partner split up in January 2013, and her benefit payments rose. But she married him in October 2013, and went on to receive £22,000 she was not entitled to.

She was given a 10-month suspended sentence and told to repay the money.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the DWP had been told about Bowen's Facebook page, with a slideshow of wedding photographs captioned: "Best years of my life, loves my husband."

Prosecutor Andrew Davies said: "In January 2013 Bowen wrote a letter saying Lee Mapstone had left the family home. As a result she received an increase in benefits as a single parent and someone not in work. But they married at the civil register office on October 10, 2013."

When interviewed under caution in December 2015, she said she could not remember what she was doing on the day she married her partner Lee Mapstone.

Bowen pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information about being overpaid £21,696 between January 2013 and November 2015. Adam Sharp, defending, said: "She accepts she embarked on this enterprise out of greed, albeit to support her daughter. She is in a stable relationship and actively seeking employment and is fit for work. The effects of sending her into custody would have a particularly devastating impact on her family."

Bowen was initially remanded into custody for a night while Judge Stephen Hopkins QC considered her sentence. However the following day he told her she had "escaped immediate custody by a cat's whisker". He suspended her sentence after deciding jailing her would have an "enormous" effect on her daughter. Bowen was also ordered to repay the money and to complete 120 hours of unpaid work in a year, plus pay £500 prosecution costs. The court heard Bowen had already repaid £2,000 over the past year.

Source

6 Apr 2017

Benefit fraud mother did not declare earnings

A St Albans lapdancer who was earning £150 a night in a strip club carried on claiming benefits - tricking the authorities into believing she was a single mum with no job. (h/t Dave)

Hannah Panayides, 35, claimed social security benefits for two years, despite working at Diamonds and Strings in The Parade. The mother-of-one also admitted working for an online adult entertainment company ‘Adult Work' - where she could earn £100 a day.

Benefit fraud investigators at Watford Borough Council received a tip-off about Panayides last year and started to look into her lifestyle. They found that in a period of 13 months, she was paid £22,000.

Panayides was summoned to court and as a consequence of her failing to attend the case was heard in her absence last week. She was found guilty of fraud and fined £440.

Last year, Panayides was fined £332 for using a colour television without a licence.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has cancelled her claim for social security benefits between March 2015 and May 2016 and created an overpayment.

Source with pictures

9 Feb 2017

£65,000 - easy tax credit fraud pickings

An HM Revenue and Customs worker fraudulently claimed £65,000 in benefits by pretending to be a single mother, a court heard.

Nicola Farningham was employed as a tax credits advisor in HMRC's Dundee call centre advising the public about child and working tax credits.

The mother-of-four claimed she was living alone with her children and only earning up to £15,000 a year. But in reality she was living with her husband Paul at their home in the city.

Dundee Sheriff Court was told that none of the money had been repaid.

Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court that an HMRC investigation was launched in 2014 following a tip-off.

Miss Robertson said Farningham submitted forms saying she was single from 2005 onwards and that her income varied from £7,253 to £15,111 over the period of the nine-year fraud.

She said: "The investigation into the accused established that she had married Paul Farningham on 7 September 2007 and that they had four children together. The accused and Mr Farningham had shared a joint bank account since 2004 and a joint mortgage for their property which they bought together in 2005."

Investigators interviewed Farningham's colleagues, who told them that she had told them she was married and that her husband stayed in Aberdeen during the week but was home at weekends.

Mr Farningham was observed coming and going from the accused's home, letting himself in with a key on one occasion.

Investigators found his wage slips at the house, as well as Valentine's cards between the couple. Miss Robertson said: "Text messages recovered simply demonstrated that the accused and Mr Farningham were in a relationship given the romantic nature of the texts. When she was interviewed the accused said they had not been co-habiting at any stage despite buying a property and having four children."

Farningham, 39, of Dundee, admitted a charge under the Tax Credits Act committed between 15 May, 2005 and 14 July, 2014. Sheriff Alastair Carmichael deferred sentence until March and released Farningham on bail.

5 Feb 2017

Benefit thief stole over £500,000

A woman who claimed she could only use one arm and so needed disability benefits was caught on video dancing to a Michael Jackson song at a wedding.

But actually she was working as a masseuse after turning the top floor of her home into a massage parlour.

Now, she has been jailed for three years after a jury found she had illegally pocketed over £539,000 over an 11-year period.

Teeside Crown Court heard that the 53-year-old lived a ‘lavish’ lifestyle, with prosecution pictures showing her outside the Eiffel Tower and dancing at a glittering wedding ceremony. Milligan, who illegally claimed seven different types of benefit, was also caught splashing in the sea and riding a bike.

She sat in a wheelchair for sentencing after a GP wrote a letter claiming she did have some health problems.

Via video link, Judge Howard Crowson said: ‘It was quite incredible to see you stepping swiftly from a chair and dancing with your husband. You portrayed yourself at the trial as the victim – a person wronged.’ But he slammed her for the ‘sophisticated’ fraud, in which she even blamed her carer at one stage for the con.

Her scam was only unearthed after a whistle-blower called the benefit fraud hotline, which then sparked a lengthy investigation which lasted for over three years.

In total, Milligan claimed £539,907.43 from 2002 by claiming hardship and severe disability. But despite her suffering from some issues, evidence showed she wasn’t as frail as she’d claimed.

Despite claims she could only walk 20 metres before experiencing excruciating pain, she was snapped doing an array of physical activities. And Judge Crowson questioned why someone with such difficulty moving around would build a massage parlour on the third floor of her home at the top of ‘steep’ stairs. Despite her denial, the Judge added: ‘She was clearly running a business. She was deceiving everyone.’

At the same time, Milligan was amassing a hefty property portfolio consisting of cheap houses, which included homes in South America, Durham and Luton.

She had one Venezuelan home from the outset of her claims in 1994, the court heard, while she got others from her ex-husband.

Among her biggest deceptions was from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which she took around £170,000 from despite not permanently residing there.

Despite defence suggestions of suspending Milligan’s jail sentence, Judge Crowson said her health wasn’t bad enough to avoid custody.

Ben Reid, from the CPS’ specialist fraud division, said: ‘While Maribel Milligan had a genuine disability and was entitled to some support, she deliberately went about claiming more than £500,000 of taxpayer’s money. Through careful analysis of the evidence, the prosecution was able to demonstrate how these fraudulent benefit claims continued over a significant period of time.’

Source with pictures

23 Dec 2015

Tip-off leads to jail for £50k housing benefit fraud

A woman who claimed more than £50,000 in housing benefit and council tax benefit, despite owning a $357,000 house in America, has been jailed for two years.

Patricia Boaden, 49, from Ruckinge in Ashford, was found guilty in November of claiming the benefits to which she was not entitled.

Boaden bought the property in America in July 2008, with money inherited from her aunt’s will. The house was sold in 2010 to a company owned and operated by the Boadens, “Sunshine and Blue Skies Escape Ltd”.

Boaden claimed she had not considered the receipt of 85% of her aunt’s estate or the proceeds she received from the sale of a business as matters that should have been declared for the purposes of the benefit.

Her original application did not make any mention of the property in America, meaning the claim was fraudulent from the outset. In total, Boaden claimed £50,169, and was sentenced to two years in prison at Canterbury Crown Court on December 18.

Neil Shorter, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “While we will help those who absolutely need our support, we crack down on those who are claiming fraudulently. The purpose of publicising this case is to illustrate how seriously we take benefit fraud and people who seek to take from the public purse what they are not entitled to, and to hope this serves as a deterrent to others. Make no mistake, we will investigate and we will prosecute.

“This case not only shows that it is essential to declare everything on your application but how vital referrals from the public are to protecting public money. Thirty per cent of referrals to our fraud team come from members of the public. Some of these are anonymous tip-offs. We welcome their action, as in this case it has led to a serious fraud being detected, and a strong sentence passed.”

Source

21 Dec 2015

Suspended jail sentence for 7-year benefit fraud

Trickster Thomas Wilkinson claimed to have been unable to walk very far as a result of osteoarthritis. (h/t Dave)

But the 67-year-old was regularly appearing on stage at around £250-a-time as part of the Blues Brothers tribute act Elwood and Jake.

Wilkinson's bout of dishonesty did not end there as he also performed at other venues as a popular Motown and Northern Soul DJ.

He had been collecting the disability living allowance since 1996, and incapacity benefit since 1994.

Department of Work and Pensions investigators tipped off about the scam discovered he had been fit enough to perform in the Blues Brothers tribute act for seven years until the fraud was uncovered last year.

Wilkinson from Bournes Hill, Halesowen confessed he had illegally obtained benefits totalling £21,266.09 between June 2007 and July last year, involving both disability living allowance and incapacity benefit.

He admitted two charges of failing to notify authorities of a change in circumstances. At Wolverhampton Crown court he was given an eight-month sentence suspended for two years.

Mr Paul Mytton, prosecuting, said Wilkinson initially started claiming benefits lawfully due to struggles with osteoarthritis which at one stage left him 'unable to walk very far'.

"All would have been well in terms of his benefits if that had remained the position," Mr Mytton said. "But it became known to the authorities that he was working in the period from June 2007 as a DJ and entertainer. All of [the crowds who watched him] said he didn't seem to have any problems walking. The result of that was over the seven-year period covered by the charges he was overpaid a total of £21,266.09. He admitted to police effectively that he should have notified the authorities, but said he wasn't as mobile as had been claimed."

Mr Gurdeep Garcha, defending, said Wilkinson - who appeared at court with a walking stick - had no previous convictions and being dragged through the courts has given him 'a very salutary lesson'. He also told the court his client is currently taking 14 different types of medication a day and seeing five different consultants for a variety of ailments. Mr Garcha said: "When one actually looks at how much was overpaid per year, it's relatively modest."

Judge Nicholas Webb handed Wilkinson an eight-month sentence suspended for two years. The judge said: "You're a man of good character but you've effectively committed a fraud on the taxpayer over a period of years, which brought you a sum of £21,000 you shouldn't have had.

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