Showing posts with label child tax credit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label child tax credit. Show all posts

2 Oct 2018

Suspended sentence for repeat benefit fraud

A benefits fraudster who swindled the taxpayer out of nearly £24,000 after falsely claiming she was the main carer for her three children has escaped an immediate jail sentence. (h/t Dave)

Mother Tanya Palmer carried out her “unsophisticated offence doomed to fail” for five years between 2012 and 2017, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

"Unsophisticated" benefit fraud it may have been but it lasted for five years and netted nearly £24,000!

Prosecutor Tom Roberts said the 29-year-old was convicted of a similar offence in 2014 when she was sentenced to a community order for income support and housing benefit overpayments of £5,500.

So the child tax credit fraud was going on while she was convicted of the earlier offence but it wasn't admitted then.

He told the judge, Recorder Simon Foster, how Palmer, from Newport, had conned the state out of £23,934.47 during her latest scam.

She admitted three counts of fraudulently obtaining child tax credit. Mr Roberts said that her children had been removed from her care.

He added that no application was being made to recover the money under the Proceeds of Crime Act as it would be a “waste of time”.

Ben Waters, mitigating for his client, said Palmer had recently been homeless and suffered from “anxiety and depression”. He added that her latest con trick was an “unsophisticated offence doomed to fail”.

Mr Waters said the money “was not used to fund a lavish lifestyle” but had been spent to satisfy the heroin addiction of a former partner who was now serving a lengthy prison sentence. He told the judge that Palmer should be allowed maximum credit after she admitted the offences at an early stage.

Recorder Foster told the defendant: “You have pleaded guilty to very serious offences to swindle the taxpayer out of many thousands of pounds.”

But he said he would not be imposing an immediate jail sentence as she had made “significant progress” to free herself of her own heroin use, was no longer homeless and was in a stable relationship with a new partner.

The judge added that she was “extraordinarily fortunate” not be going straight to jail.

She will serve eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and was also sentenced to a 12-day rehabilitation activity requirement, 150 hours of unpaid work and a £140 victim surcharge.


17 Jun 2014

Jail for mother who claimed for six fictitious children

A mother was jailed for a year after claiming more than £55k in benefits for six children who did not exist. (h/t Dave)

Angela Callaghan, 42, even charged other women £700 a time to explain how her scam worked and how they too could fleece authorities for thousands of pounds in public cash.

Callaghan, from Bootle, pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud for the fake children and one count of fraud for claiming for her daughter who was no longer in full time education.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how from 2009 to 2012 she claimed £42,925 in child tax credits though the total fraud topped £55k.

Callaghan, who wept freely when she was in the dock, brought in other women and showed them how they could add fake twins to their claims to make more money themselves.

Sarah Phelan, defending, told the court that Callaghan’s crime was “out of need, not greed” because her ex-partner had left her with debts to pay off. She also asked for leniency because Callaghan had a child with special needs who her young daughter would have to look after if she was jailed.

But Judge David Aubrey, QC, said:
In the court’s judgement it would be failing in its public duty if you did not receive an immediate custodial sentence. You, having initiated the scam that you did, recruited other persons or at the very least informed other persons how easy it was to obtain money dishonestly from the public purse.
He called the fraud “flagrant and brazen” adding: “They really were audacious representations. You claimed not just for one child but for six children who simply did not exist.”

Callaghan’s co-accused - all snared as part of 'Operation Dishcloth' - were sentenced at a hearing earlier this month. Nicola Brown, 34, of Esmond Street, Anfield, Maria McDermott,31, of Radstock Road, Fairfield, and Lisa Keightley, 28, of Cullen Street, Toxteth, were sentenced to two months jail suspended for 12 months, plus a supervision order for 12 months for frauds involving tax credit overpayments of between £4,151 and £2,502.

Sandra Smith, assistant director Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:
Callaghan lied on numerous occasions to receive benefits she wasn’t entitled to, pocketing money needed to fund public services. She then went on to help others make fraudulent claims. All these mothers now have criminal records and have to repay the stolen money. We recognise it is only a minority that are exploiting the system but we would encourage anyone with information relating to tax credit fraud to call the Benefits Anti-Fraud Helpline in total confidence on 0800 854 440.”

27 Jan 2014

Reader comments on benefit fraud

Benefit fraud is far more widespread than official figures admit. Government puts it around £1.2bn, but benefit fraud is at least £5bn.

In response to our post Ludicrous sentence for HMRC manager in tax credit fraud, a reader comments that
Tax Credits are a joke. When I started in Housing Benefit we only accepted child benefit as proof of a child in the household, getting child tax credits wasn't enough.

I'd abolish Working Tax Credits and increase the minimum wage.

And I've never seen a self employed person declare more than £3 per hour in earnings.
Replacing tax credits by raising the minimum wage would load the extra cost onto employers, so they would look to fire low value employees and be discouraged from taking on more. However, the writer reports a coach and horses being driven through the benefit rules on a regular basis. With the huge numbers going on and off benefits each year, there just aren't enough officials to check every claim, let alone prosecute all the wrongdoers who do get identified.

Just one in four benefit swindlers are actually prosecuted.

Responding to our post Million sickness benefit applicants 'fit for work', a reader suggests that
Far too often, it's not can you work but do you want to work.

Disability benefits are quite generous if you can get maximum ESA/DLA - up to £250 pw for a single person.

'Depression' is the new bad back and, of course, alcoholics and drug addicts have 'mental health issues'. Keeps the Support Workers in jobs too.
Tackling benefit fraud properly would be hugely popular politically, and it would save a lot of money.