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

8 Nov 2019

Dog owner was benefit fraudster

A dog owner who claimed she could not walk fleeced £16,000 in disability benefits despite showing off her pooch at Crufts, a court heard.

Dawn Gregory, 56, said she could only move 20 yards at a time following a brain hernia.

But the prize-winning Kennel Club-registered breeder was filmed briskly trotting her pedigree keeshond at the dog show.

Lincoln crown court heard she was listed with the Department for Work and Pensions as suffering headaches, neck and shoulder pain, weakness to her left side and mini-strokes.

But investigators found she was well enough to breed dogs at her £300,000 home in Kettlethorpe, Lincs, and to attend shows, and prosecuted her. The court heard her medical condition was not in dispute.

But prosecutors said she claimed £16,719 at an enhanced rate she was clearly not entitled to.

She admitted benefit fraud and got an eight-week jail term, suspended for a year, and a three-month electronically monitored night-time curfew.

The confiscation of £16,719 of assets was ordered.

Source with pictures

27 Oct 2019

Benefits claimant pretended she was disabled

A woman who falsely said she was disabled but was seen dancing at a wedding has been jailed for claiming benefits worth £260,000.

Nasreen Akhtar also said she was a single parent but was caught living with a partner, prosecutors said.

She claimed the fraudulent "complex raft of benefits" between 2002 and 2013 based on being a single parent with poor mobility who was too ill to work.

The 50-year-old was caught following covert surveillance after a tip-off.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said police discovered she had a partner when they found him in her bed during a raid on her home in 2013.

Also, while she claimed she was "too ill to work" and had "poor mobility" and "significant care needs", she was seen out and about with her family, and dancing at a wedding, the CPS added.

Akhtar, from Oldham, admitted seven counts of fraud against the local authority and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

At Manchester Crown Court she was jailed for two years.

Simon Tunnicliffe, of Mersey Cheshire CPS's fraud unit, said the case went "way beyond the average".

He said it took three years to bring a case against Akhtar as she had attempted - "at further cost to the taxpayer" - to have herself found unfit to stand trial.

"Earlier this year we brought even more compelling evidence that Ms Akhtar was trying to hoodwink the court and the judge decided that she was fit and well enough to stand trial," he said.

Akhtar later pleaded guilty to a total of seven counts of fraud.

The CPS said Akhtar had claimed housing benefit and council tax relief as a single parent for a house she rented, when she had actually owned it jointly with her partner.

She also claimed income support as a single parent when she owned other properties and had significant savings, it added.

Source with video

2 Sep 2019

Benefit authorities nodded through disability claims

A benefit fraudster was branded "wicked and devious" after she lied about being housebound and disabled to claim £62,000 from the taxpayer. (h/t Dave)

Andrea Blackburn, 40, made increasingly extreme claims about debilitating ailments as she took five types of benefits over a five-year period - while holding down a series of jobs.

A judge said she was "staggered" Blackburn was allowed to make the claims without proper investigation.

Blackburn claimed disability living allowance legitimately from 2008, but her swindle started when she had her claim pushed into higher bands in 2012 to 2013.

Teesside Crown Court heard how she claimed she:

  • Was agoraphobic, suffered with nerves, used crutches, could not stand for long periods, struggled to hold things and her hands shook uncontrollably
  • Needed help changing clothes and moving around the house, relied on others, did not go out and needed someone to speak for her
  • Could not answer the door, needed help eating, drinking and getting to the toilet, spent most days in bed and could not communicate
  • Fell several times a day, could barely walk, could not feel her hands, had to drink through a straw and could not cook meals, hold pans or cutlery or turn on a CD player
  • Someone had to reposition her two to three times at night and she could only be left alone for 30 to 60 minutes

In fact, she was working at least 36 hours a week as a customer assistant for Tesco and in Marks & Spencer coffee shop at the time.

Prosecutor Nigel Soppitt said she stopped working for two years then went on to three jobs for Greggs, Tesco and Sainsbury's from 2015.

Duties in her various jobs included preparing hot food, cleaning and clearing tables, operating a dishwasher and replacing stock on a wines and spirits aisle.

She claimed other benefits, saying she could not shower, was too weak to stand and had incontinence problems.

She threw up a "smokescreen" that she was confused and could not understand or answer questions when interviewed, said Mr Soppitt. "It seems they've simply accepted it at face value."

Investigators saw her driving her own car, after claiming she could not drive, as her deceit came to light in 2017.

In total, she wrongly claimed £62,640 in disability living allowance, housing benefit, incapacity benefit, employment and support allowance and personal independence payments between 2011 and 2016.

Blackburn, from Thornaby , admitted six charges of benefit fraud.

Damian Sabino, defending, said Blackburn gave a "worst-case scenario" and understood she did wrong but "buried her head in the sand".

He said the offending was unsophisticated: "This was never going to work. It was always going to be a matter of time."

This is an excuse?

He said the mum-of-eight did have genuine ailments including carpal tunnel syndrome, for which she had surgery in 2012 and 2015.

"They don't account for the versions persistently presented in claim forms," he added.

"She accepts responsibility for her offending. There was no lavish lifestyle, no holidays, no flash cars, no evidence of high living. She was living in a council rented property, paid bedroom tax and had a 10-year-old car. It's clear she doesn't manage money well. Over the years she has been left in debt by former lovers. She was perhaps an easy target."

He said she had the investigation hung over her for two-and-a-half years, and a consultant psychiatrist found she had anxiety and depression.

He said she was vulnerable, "did not have a good start in life", was seeing a psychotherapist and an early intervention team and found it difficult to explore emotional trauma.

He added she had repaid just over £1,200 of the money and had a new job starting on Monday.

Mr Sabino argued jailing her would impact on her children, cost her her home and halt a three-year plan designed to "get people out of the pit".

"I think her relationship with reality is a journey," he told the court. "These proceedings have brought her closer to reality than she has been before."

The judge described the crimes as "grossly fraudulent" and "particularly wicked and devious" during the hearing.

She said: "This is a lady who has presented to the authorities that she was effectively housebound, immobile and severely disabled, and yet she's holding down three jobs."

Sentencing, she told Blackburn: "You duped the Department for Work and Pensions and Stockton Borough Council into paying you a total of £62,640. Falsely claiming you were suffering from a host of medical ailments of increasing severity. You are a devious wicked woman."

He accepted she had difficulties in childhood and adulthood, and some real medical complaints and problems.

"But they are not to such a degree of severity that they entitle you to receive these monies," the judge continued.

"This is in my view a very serious offence. It is staggering that you were able to pull this off.

"It is unbelievable that the authorities did not properly investigate your medical claims. I'm told that the system that operated at the time no longer exists.

"You are fully to blame. You are a thoroughly dishonest woman. There are people in this country that suffer from genuine disabilities, genuine illnesses, and who need the support.

"You have come within a whisker of going to prison today."

Given her efforts to repay, the judge gave her a 10-month jail term suspended for 18 months with 150 hours' unpaid work, 20 days' rehabilitation activity and £600 costs.

Source with unedifying pictures

27 Aug 2019

Benefits fraudster falsely claimed £10k while working as crime adviser based at police HQ

A fraudster has been spared jail - despite falsely claiming £10,000 worth of disability benefits while working at Staffordshire Police HQ! (h/t Dave)

Victoria Antill claimed allowances "designed for the most vulnerable" after telling authorities she suffered from a catalogue of illnesses, including strokes, PTSD, Bell's palsy, anxiety and depression, Stafford Crown Court heard.

The 36-year-old said she could not walk without assistance, could not cook due to severe physical problems, was unable to wash or bathe without help, and could not go to the toilet by herself.

But this did not stop her working 35 hours a week for the chamber of commerce as a full-time civilian business crime helpline advisor while based at Staffordshire Police HQ in Weston Road, Stafford.

CCTV showed Antill entering and leaving the office for Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry without difficulty and carrying three bags.

She had "no difficulty" with mobility, was able to climb two flights of stairs, and even entered running events.

The court was told she had sent letters to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) posing as her GP in support of her claim for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Antill pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to notify authorities after starting work in August 2017 while claiming Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefits.

She also admitted a further charge of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a PIP.

She was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, told to complete 30 days of a rehabilitation programme, and ordered to continue to pay back £50 a month for three years.

At her sentencing hearing, Recorder Martin Wasik told Antill: "This is a serious matter in a number of respects - as pointed out by the prosecution, there are blatant aspects here of inconsistency in your working life and the statements that you were making to the benefit authorities.

"I am very concerned about a number of aspects - particularly the suggestion that letters reporting to have come from the GP may have been forged. There is significant dishonesty here."

Sparing Antill time in prison immediately, the judge continued: "I am going to suspend your sentence in this case so that repayments can continue. Prison would have serious adverse effects on you, very serious adverse effects on your family, and no further money can be repaid."

Opening the case against Antill, prosecutor Omar Majid said: "There is no dispute that the defendant had the ailments... but the effect on her was demonstrably and grossly overstated. She had initially said that she could only manage (to walk) half a metre and could not walk without someone physically supporting her."

Mr Majid said somebody from the DWP had visited Antill in December 2017 after she made an application for a PIP two months earlier.

He said: "She explained to the individual who visited that she had a carer who attended six hours a day, seven days a week. At the conclusion of that appointment, Ms Antill went to work. The Crown say that that was brazen dishonesty.

"It became clear that the defendant had grossly exaggerated her care needs."

He continued: "She had not told the adviser that she had started full-time work at the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Had she told the truth, she would not have been entitled to the PIP at all.

"It was found that, somewhat ironically, she was working as a business crime helpline adviser.

"There had been observations that she had been walking up two flights of stairs without needing any assistance. She never showed or demonstrated any difficulty with her mobility."

Mr Majid said Antill had also called the DWP to say there had been no change of circumstances two days after she started work.

Antill's defence barrister, Saleema Mahmood, said she had already returned around £2,000 to the DWP and was paying £50 back a week.

Source with pictures

16 Aug 2019

"Psychic medium" was benefits cheat

A Kilmarnock-based psychic who calls himself Scotland’s Straight Talking Medium pled guilty to fraud.

George Wyllie, who travels the world with his private readings and live demonstrations as a medium, admitted fraudulently claiming £8500 worth of disability benefit to which he was not entitled.

Wyllie admitted the offence at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week.

The court heard how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) received an anonymous tip-off that the 37-year-old was working full-time as a spiritual medium, performing on stage for hours and mobile when attending appointments.

An investigation carried out by the DWP revealed Wyllie had been travelling for his work and had conducted vlogs on the streets of New York - all while claiming personal independence payments (PIP).

The fiscal depute told the court: “There was a video uploaded on the accused’s website entitled in May 2017. It shows the accused able to stand and move for prolonged periods.

“It shows him able to bend forward, reach below his knees and withhold that position and straighten up again without any problems.”

She added: “Surveillance shows the accused undertaking activities at his home address in contradiction to his claim for PIP. He was viewed carrying a TV, carrying out gardening activities, using a water hose, moving wheelie bins and able to walk more than 40 yards.

“Footage at Glasgow Airport shows the accused en route to New York travelling alone and at one point holding a bag in excess of 200 yards.

“His video blog shows the accused broadcasting live and conducting a blog while walking around the streets of New York.”

Wyllie’s Facebook page George Wyllie Medium & Psychic shows a number of videos and live vlogs updating fans on his upcoming events and activities.

His website, which describes him as “The Real Deal bringing proof of life after life”, documented his trip to New York in July 2018, including a hand-held video of him walking through downtown Manhattan on his way to the theatre.

He pled guilty to claiming £8500 of PIP to which he was not entitled between May 2017 and November 2018 at a former address in Kilwinning.

His agent told Sheriff Alastair Watson that Wyllie suffered a range of mental health conditions including a personality disorder. She said: “This was a man who thought he was not doing anything wrong.”

However, Sheriff Watson replied: “If you can walk about the streets of New York, taking international flights, you do not even remotely meet the requirements for PIP. He did not need much advice to find that out.”

The lawyer replied: “His personality disorder clearly had an impact on him.

“He has developed a split personality as a way of coping with life. He has shown remorse and recognises the damage his actions have caused to society by impact on the public purse. With the hopes he has for his business he hopes he can repay that sum.”

Sheriff Watson told Wyllie: “You are a fraud. You have obtained PIP when you clearly were not entitled to it and it must have been absolutely obvious to you that you were not entitled.

“I feel sorry for all the genuine claimants who are made to go through rigorous and sometimes embarrassing examinations. They all suffer because of people like you.

“It is dishonest people like you that cause the need for these rigorous examinations. You are so close to custody.”

Wyllie was sentenced to 12 months of supervision and placed under a curfew order, forcing him to wear an electronic tag and remain at home between 7pm and 7am each night for three months.

Source

5 Aug 2019

Benefit cheat caught training dogs at Crufts must pay back almost £11k

A dopey disability benefits cheat who posted pictures on Facebook exhibiting dogs at Crufts has been ordered to pay back almost £11,000 of her ill-gotten gains. (h/t Dave)

Trainer Linda Avery, aged 57, claimed she could hardly walk but was filmed at a later show in Devon grooming and running her charges around rings.

The former mealtime assistant was handed a community order with unpaid work in March.

But she was summonsed back to court as the Department for Work and Pensions sought their money back under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that she had been overpaid £12,538 in Disability Living Allowance over two years.

Judge Paul Darlow ordered her to pay £10,970 over the next three months. Avery could be jailed for seven months if she fails to do so.

The court heard that she had assets assessed as about £78,000, including her share in a home.

Sally Daulton, for the department, said pictures posted on Facebook showing Avery exhibiting at Crufts showed just how long she had been cheating the system.

She said that the defendant had already paid back the balance of the money owed to the department.

Avery claimed she needed a walking aid or sticks to get around and even needed someone to cut up her food, the court heard in March.

But officers from the Department for Work and Pensions secretly filmed her parading, grooming and lifting dogs at a show in Paignton.

Avery, from Efford, admitted dishonestly failing to notify an improvement in her condition affecting her DLA claim between October 2014 and July 2016.

She was handed a 12-month community order with 100 hours unpaid work and 20 days of probation supervision.

Source with pictures

20 Jul 2019

'This is the largest case of benefit fraud by a single person'

An amateur actress master-minded a £750,000 benefits scam by hiding her father's death and faking illness for more than 23 years. (h/t Dave)

Ethel McGill, 68, was at the heart of a 'spider's web' of deceit that amounted to the biggest ever individual benefit fraud in history, officials believe.

The mother-of-two used her acting talents to con the authorities into believing her father, Robert Dennison, was alive for more than a decade after his death - even showing inspectors into his bedroom with an imposter in his bed - so she could claim his war pension and handouts for expensive round-the-clock care.

But despite raking in almost £600,000 in the name of Dennison - a former infantry man in the British Army during the Second World War - over 12 years, it was still not enough for greedy McGill.

She also faked several illnesses herself - including arthritis, asthma and later dementia - and claimed she needed a wheelchair to get around to secure her own disability living allowance (DLA) payments and lucrative care package.

But officials became suspicious when, during repeated visits McGill made excuses about why her father was not at home.

Covert surveillance revealed how McGill could walk around unaided despite claiming she was confined to a wheelchair and couldn't drive in order to claim mobility allowance

They began investigating and surveillance teams captured McGill out shopping, driving, walking and carrying armfuls of boxes and wooden shelving near her bungalow, in Runcorn, Cheshire.

They also discovered her acting profile on the StarNow website, in which she declared she had performed in many roles in amateur plays, ranging from 'a very hard hearted Glasgow woman to being a very timid domestic abuse victim.'

Chester Crown Court heard that even when arrested, in March 2016, McGill kept up the pretence, telling police Mr Dennison was 'away at the caravan' and feigning walking difficulties as police tried to take her to the cells. In reality Mr Dennison had died, aged 82, in April 2004.

The court heard McGill, who is originally from Glasgow, spent a month at a mental health hospital following her arrest, before five psychiatrists concluded there was nothing wrong with her. She has also since been diagnosed with 'factitious illness disorder'.

Today, McGill was brought into court by wheelchair, but a judge questioned whether she was still 'putting it on' and warned he would jail her when she is sentenced later this month. She admitted 14 counts of fraud and money laundering in June.

Judge Steven Everett, the Recorder of Chester, told her she was a 'very devious woman.'

'I'm sure you know what's going on Ethel McGill,' he said. 'Listen to me, you are insulting my intelligence.'

Judge Everett added: 'Let's be crystal clear, I'm going to send her to prison. It's like a spider's web and she is at the heart of it.'

He told the court he was forced to adjourn the case to Liverpool Crown Court, where there are better facilities for wheelchair users, but ordered McGill be effectively put under house arrest and forced to stay inside until 6am on July 29, when she will be sentenced.

The court heard McGill's fraud dated back to 1993 when she told officials she was confined to a wheelchair and couldn't drive in order to claim mobility allowance.

More than £590,000 was obtained in her dead father's name and included attendance allowances, housing and council tax benefits, plus his independent living fund care package, a war pension and council pension from when he worked as a binman.

Another £125,000 was claimed by McGill in DLA, plus another £27,000 was paid to her son, Christopher McGill, 28, in carer's allowances for looking after her.

McGill also persuaded Hannah Bazley, 25, the girlfriend of her other son, Anthony, 29, to help her con her GP and apply for a care package to support her fictitious dementia.

The pair hijacked the identity of an innocent woman to secure her national insurance number and make the fake claim, which totalled £3,700 over four months in 2014.

In a statement to the court, McGill claimed the money she claimed had gone to 'worthy causes', but prosecutors remain baffled as to what exactly she spent the cash on.

They said McGill, who has previous convictions for benefit fraud and obtaining property by deception, for which she received an eight month jail term, lived in a modest bungalow and there was 'no evidence' of a lavish lifestyle.

Stephane Pendered, spokesman for the CPS, said: 'This is the largest case of benefit fraud by a single person.

'Not content with receiving her father's pensions, housing and tax benefits under false pretences, Ethel McGill made good use of her amateur dramatic skills by feigning dementia to succeed in her own fraudulent benefit claims.'

Christopher McGill admitted one count of fraud by false misrepresentation and was made the subject of a two year community order. Bazley admitted two counts of the same charge and received an 18 month community order.

Source with pictures

28 Jun 2019

Mother in benefit fraud *again*

A "cunning attention-seeker" who claimed she was dying of cancer to con £19,000 in benefits has been spared jail.

Mum-of-three Gemma Goodwin, 36, not only lied about having a terminal diagnosis but also that she had the serious and debilitating autoimmune condition, Lupus.

A court heard the 36-year-old, from Kent, even forged letters purporting to be from medical experts to back-up her lies.

As a result, she received £18,923 personal independence payments from the Department of Work and Pensions for two-and-a-half years.

The allowance, commonly known as PIP, is designed to assist those with the extra costs of a long-term health condition or disability.

But Maidstone Crown Court heard that Goodwin's claim was fraudulent from the outset.

It also took place just three years after she was convicted of another scam in which she obtained approximately £40,000 in housing benefit.

Now working part-time in accounts for a tyre company, she is currently repaying the overpayment at a rate of £12.50 a month.

On that basis it will take her a staggering 126 years to pay it all back.

On Tuesday, sobbing Goodwin was given a 16-month jail term suspended for two years, despite Judge Philip Statman remarking during the hearing that having dependant children was not a 'get out of jail card'.

Taking the unusual step of asking Goodwin to leave the dock and stand in the witness box, Judge Philip Statman told her: "I am just persuaded as a pure act of mercy and because of the concerns that I have for your children that I'm going to suspend the sentence of imprisonment upon you.

"I have taken the view after long and careful consideration that to send you to prison today would have not only deprived three children of their mother but also wrecked three young lives."

But the judge said he was also imposing stringent conditions of a nine-month, tagged nightly curfew, 180 hours of unpaid work and 30 days' rehabilitation activity requirement to reflect society's concern as to why he had 'come down in her favour'.

"You richly deserve to go to prison immediately. This was a sophisticated fraud and there was a degree of cunning in what you did," added Judge Statman.

"By defrauding this particular amount that is set aside by society for PIP, you place even greater pressure upon that fund which is already stretched to extreme by those who make legitimate claims.

"There are many people in the community with children of a young age who are trying to work as hard as they can and it doesn't lead them to steal or commit fraud in the manner that you have.

"I have taken account of the aggravating and mitigating factors in your case....On that particular balance, I have formed the view that the punishment I have served upon you is the right and proper one. It is justice tempered with mercy."

Defence barrister Peter Alcock had told the court it could impose a non-custodial sentence by reason of Goodwin's desire to repay, together with her mental health, guilty pleas, employment and the impact of a prison sentence on her children.

Furthermore, he added her offending was motivated by 'attention-seeking and sympathy' rather than a luxury lifestyle, and that she simply used the money 'to smooth a difficult existence' of bringing up three children alone.

Goodwin, from Dartford, Kent, admitted four offences of benefit fraud and two of furnishing false information.

She had cried in the dock as reference was made to her three children, now aged 12, nine and eight.

Judge Statman had adjourned the hearing overnight so he could consider all the evidence before him.

In acknowledging Goodwin's visible upset on what he called her 'Judgment Day', he also remarked: "Children of this age are as much victims as those that lost the money."

Prosecutor Edmund Gross told the court three of the charges related to Goodwin making false statements in relation to having lupus and one in respect of suffering from terminal cancer.

He said Goodwin also produced letters purporting to be from the London Lupus Centre in support of her claims for PIP.

"Between November 2015 and July 2018 she received overpayment on the grounds she had an illness or disability and needed help, which was untrue and false from the outset," he told the court.

"Health professionals she provided information about didn't exist and she wasn't a patient at the named hospitals. This is sophisticated fraud with detailed information being given about her needs which is false and produced in order to support this."

The court heard Goodwin's lies had 'spiralled out of control' after telling a friend and her former boss she had health problems.

Having been told she was therefore entitled to financial assistance, Goodwin applied for the state benefit.

"Whether it was self-esteem, attention-seeking or a manifestation of the depression that she has.....it spiralled," said Mr Alcock.

"It wasn't said for financial fraud but to gain support and sympathy. It was one untruth for sympathy which became an untruth for a different purpose and then spiralled over the two-year period."

Asked by Judge Philip Statman what the money was used for, Mr Alcock said: "It went on living. There's no luxury lifestyle, there's no fast car. It's not a fortune but it may have smoothed a difficult existence."

For her previous conviction for benefit fraud in 2012, she received six months' imprisonment suspended for a year, with an unpaid work requirement.

Goodwin sobbed and thanked Judge Statman at the end of the hearing.

He said her small monthly repayment showed 'an element of remorse' and warned her: "Don't you dare stop paying."

Source with pictures

27 Jun 2019

Police raids in £1/2m benefits fraud investigation

Twelve people have been arrested in connection with a large scale benefit scam following dawn raids across Blackburn this morning (Wednesday, June 26th). (h/t Dave)

A team of police officers arrested the four women and eight men at seven addresses in relation to the suspected fraudulent payment of around half a million pounds in disability benefits.

The action, codenamed ‘Operation Cactus’, is also looking at the alleged exploitation of vulnerable tenants with complex needs, through the control of their bank cards as well as the direct payment of universal credit benefits/ housing benefits into the bank accounts of home owners renting out their properties.

The investigation is being supported by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

The following are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and theft:

1) Four women aged 49, 21, 24 and 36 from Blackburn

2) Six men aged 31, 59, 30, 20, 52, 43 and two men aged 45, also from Blackburn.

They remain in police custody at this time.

DS Stu Peall from the East Division Exploitation Team said:
Today’s action is the culmination of months of work looking at not just benefit fraud but specifically a number of tenants, who are particularly vulnerable people suffering with drug and alcohol issues, potentially feeling coerced into signing over the payment of their benefits to the person or people they rent their property from. This means they never see or have ownership of the money they are entitled to. 
On top of this, some tenants have had their bank cards taken from them meaning they have had no access to cash they may need.
We think that this has been going on for some time and that there are more victims than we are aware of. If you think that you or a friend or family member could have been a victim of this kind of exploitation, please speak to us. We appreciate that you may feel apprehensive, concerned or scared to make contact but it is really important that you tell us what has happened.
Source

18 Jun 2019

Benefit cheat delivered pizzas while claiming he could hardly walk

A cheat who claimed who could hardly walk while delivering pizzas has been found guilty of a £28,000 benefit fraud. (h/t Dave)

Greg Phillips, aged 51, worked for Domino’s Pizza among a string of physical jobs while claiming Disability Living Allowance for five years.

But he had told the DWP he could hardly walk and was often housebound with a bad back.

Phillips has avoided a prison sentence after he was convicted by a jury in a trial at Plymouth Crown Court.

But he could lose his career as a registered nurse and faces further court action to seize assets to repay the £28,469 he swindled.

Phillips, from Plympton, went on trial after denying dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting his claim for DLA between January 2012 and January 2017.

He did not promptly tell the department that his health had improved since he applied in 2010.

But a jury found Phillips guilty by a unanimous verdict after two hours of deliberations.

Sentencing hours later with the aid of a probation report, a judge suspended his prison sentence, stating his age, good character and charity work.

Judge James Townsend told him: “You have been convicted by a jury of doing something which was extremely foolish and wrong. Offences of this sort are so serious because they take money not only from the taxpayer but more importantly from others who have a greater need.”

Phillips delivered pizzas and worked as shift manager for the Plympton branch of Domino’s through 2015.

Emily Cook, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said that prosecutors were launching further court action to seize the outstanding sum of £27,699. He is already repaying the overpaid amount at £55 a month – a rate which will take years to settle. Investigators will look to seize any assets, including property.

Judge Townsend said that Phillips, a registered nurse, had to report his conviction to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and faced being struck off.

The court heard that he had worked in two city residential care homes and had visited clients with care needs in their home for a community provider.

Barrister Katie Churcher, for Phillips, said his health had deteriorated since 2015. He has lumbar spondylosis or a “crumbling spine”. A previous trial was cancelled in February because he was in hospital and he is now far less mobile.

Miss Churcher said: “He worked really hard and was highly regarded by his peers. He has done a lot of good work for charity.”

Judge Townsend gave him a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He added the defendant could not do unpaid work and said a curfew might restrict his ability to find paid employment in the future.

Source with picture

14 Jun 2019

Anti-fracking protestor was benefit fraudster

This is a report about Catherine Jackson, an anti-fracking protestor who helped herself to Personal Independence Payments, making a declaration about her disabilities which was flatly untrue. (h/t Dave)

Such entitlement. What a hypocrite.

27 May 2019

Paedophile hunter was also benefits cheat

A VIGILANTE paedo hunter who claimed she needed a wheelchair cheated £15,000 in benefits.

Karen Ferry, 47, swindled the cash after informing the DWP she needed the use of a wheelchair and a walking stick due to a “degenerative pain” condition.

Ferry - who also worked as a security supervisor at music festivals - claimed she had been in “extreme pain” for years and was forced to move her bedroom downstairs due to her mobility issues.

She told DWP officials she also needed help getting in and out of the bath and shower and also needed an aid to help her got off the toilet.

Ferry also claimed she “starts shaking” and experiences chest pains when outside and the pain affected her daily life “every day”.

But despite receiving the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) it was found Ferry had been employed by Global Security Stewarding over the near four-year period.

Ferry, from Mayfield, Midlothian, was in charge of a team of security workers who operated at festivals, concerts and football matches.

Ferry appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where she admitted to knowingly making a false statement to the DWP and claiming £15,000 in Personal Independence Payment she was not entitled to between November 17, 2014 and March 25, 2018.

Fiscal depute Nicole Lavelle told the court the DWP set up an investigation last year into Ferry’s benefit claims.

Ms Lavelle said the PIP benefit was claimed by a self-assessment form but at the time Ferry was “responsible for a team of stewards” who worked at various events throughout the country.

The fiscal added the benefit cheat “was in charge of certain areas” at the events and her role required her to “physically active and alert” for “a minimum of five hours” per day.

Her PIP forms included the statements: “I cannot go anywhere on my own and just thinking about it makes me very anxious. If I leave to my front gate I start shaking, my chest gets tight and I believe I am going to stop breathing. My heart races and I break out in a sweat. I have these problems at all times of the day, and every day.”

Ferry also claimed “it was painful to walk just a few yards” and she needed the help of a wheelchair and a walking stick to aid her mobility.

Liam Kildare, defending solicitor, said his client had told him she was only been employed in “an office-based” position but admitted she had “overstated” her symptoms to the DWP.

Mr Kildare added Ferry did suffer from pain complaints and that she is still on benefits and she had “not exaggerated on all fronts”.

He said she eventually lost her position with the security company after she had to refuse shifts due to her ongoing physical condition.

Sheriff Nigel Ross deferred sentence to next month for the preparation of the social work report.


Ferry is a member of the online paedophile hunter group Wolf Pack Hunters UK who have been responsible for scores of child sex offenders appearing in court.

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8 May 2019

Benefit cheat's curfew hours altered for Ramadan

A benefit cheat has been allowed to change her curfew hours so that she can pray during Ramadan.

Sami Farooq appeared in court last month after claiming more than £10,000 she was not entitled to.

The 50-year-old's claim for Disability Living Allowance was legitimate from the outset. But when her poor health improved and she gained a job with a firm of woollen spinners she failed to tell anyone.

Farooq, from Crosland Moor, pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to a benefit.

Kirklees magistrates described the offence, committed between January and October in 2014, as 'serious." They sentenced her to an 18 week curfew running between the hours of 7pm and 7am as punishment.

But Farooq appeared back before magistrates and asked them to change her curfew hours for the month of Ramadan.

Through an interpreter she explained: "It's my honourable request to change the hours. It's only for one month but during this month there is extra prayer and I have to go to classes."

Magistrates were told that she wished to go to mosque to read her prayers and these finish later during the holy month. Farooq said she would expect to be home by 11pm most nights.

Magistrates agreed to vary her curfew so that it runs from 11pm until 9am from May 5 until June 6.

From June 7 until July 20 she must be inside for the original curfew hours of 7pm to 7am.

Magistrates added an extra two days to her curfew to reflect the shorter hours she will be inside during Ramadan.

Farooq asked if she could get in later on other days outside the religious festival but they refused.

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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.”

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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.

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So no real punishment.

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.

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19 Mar 2019

2014 benefit fraud comes to court

A woman suffering from poor health claimed more than £10,000 she was not entitled to when her condition improved.

Sami Farooq's claim for Disability Living Allowance was legitimate from the outset.

But when the 50-year-old's health improved and she gained employment working with a firm of woollen spinners she failed to tell anyone.

She pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to a benefit.

Farooq, from Crosland Moor, committed the offence between January and October, 2014.

Alex Bozman, prosecuting, said that she became well enough to take up employment with the company for a period of nine months during that year.

He told Kirklees magistrates : “As a consequence she obtained benefits to the value of £10,532 which she was not entitled to. The prosecution accepts that she was originally entitled to the benefits. But when she obtained work with the woollen spinners she accepts she should have notified the appropriate departments of this work. She said that she didn't think it was dishonest.”

Magistrates were told that Farooq has been out of trouble for almost a decade. The last offences on her record were shoplifting matters dating back 10 years.

The Huddersfield court heard that the overpaid cash is now being repaid to the DWP.

Andrew Stewardson, mitigating, said: “It's not a claim which was fraudulent from the outset – she has had some health troubles. She is now on benefits and not currently working.”

Magistrates described the offence as 'serious' and sentenced Farooq to an 18 week curfew. This will run between the hours of 7pm and 7am and be electronically monitored.

She must pay £85 court costs and £85 victim surcharge.

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27 Feb 2019

"Disabled" benefit cheat showed dogs at Crufts

A dog trainer who claimed she could hardly walk was caught out after she was photographed taking part in the country’s top show.

Cheating Linda Avery, aged 57, was pictured at Crufts exhibiting a collie while pocketing the highest rate of disability benefit, a court heard.

Investigators tailed Avery to a Devon show where they filmed her lifting and preparing dogs for the ring.

She was paid more than £12,000 to which she was not entitled over nearly two years, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Judge Paul Darlow commented: “Her condition has improved enough to be seen running dogs around rings at Crufts. It is one hell of a recovery.”

Avery, who does walk with a stick, pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify an improvement in her condition affecting her claim for Disability Living Allowance between October 2014 and July 2016.

The court heard that she started receiving the higher rate for DLA in late 2014.

Plymouth Live understands that she posted a picture on Facebook of her showing a dog at Crufts. Investigators then filmed her exhibiting at Paignton Dog Show.

Ali Rafati, for Avery, said she was still receiving benefits. He said: “She failed to notify improvements in her health and that resulted her receiving the higher rate benefit to which she would not have been entitled.”

Sally Daulton, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said that the authorities would be launching legal action to claw back the money through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Avery, from Efford, was driven away in an expensive-looking VW Transporter Van.

Judge Darlow ordered a probation report and released Avery on bail until March 8.

19 Feb 2019

Benefit fraudster told to sell fish

A benefit cheat pictured up a tree and on a zipwire while claiming he could barely walk has been told he must sell his Koi carp and coin collection to pay back money he fraudulently claimed.

Paul Stevens, 70, and wife Alexandra, 49, were both handed suspended sentences last year after they exaggerated Mr Stevens’ claims for Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.

The couple, who had denied the offences but were convicted by a jury, told the Department for Work and Pensions Mr Stevens needed help bathing, cooking, getting dressed and claimed he could not walk for long distances.

However, images shown at the trial showed Mr Stevens enjoying himself on a zipwire, helping prune a tree using a saw and working in the front garden of the couple’s home in Clacton.

Mrs Stevens had previously worked as a a benefits fraud investigator and then a tax fraud investigator and in 2015 began helping her husband cut corners to earn extra money.

The pair were back at Chelmsford Crown Court for a proceeds of crime hearing where it was revealed Mr Stevens’ benefit figure - the amount the Crown Prosecution Service allege he has obtained as a result of criminal conduct - is £45,000 while Mrs Stevens’ is close to £17,000.

However, the figures do not include money which they were legally entitled to after Mr Stevens was injured at work. He began claiming disability benefits in 1995 for conditions including a degenerative bone disease.

John Livingston, prosecuting, said Mr Stevens had assets of £13,000 which does not include any equity in property, a coin collection estimated to be worth £10,000 and a shoal of Koi carp which were likely valued at £3,000.

There are also issues over the ownership of the marital home which is believed to be solely in Mrs Stevens’ name.

Mr Livingston alleged their home has increased in value by £13,900 since they bought it using fraudulently gained cash giving them a pecuniary advantage.

Judge David Turner QC urged Mr Stevens to get his collections valued “pretty darn quickly” ahead of a hearing in April which will determine how much the pair have to pay back.

He urged parties to come to an arrangement quickly about the amount owed so it could be resolved.

He added: “The last thing I want is more public money to be spent than the amount which is actually recovered. This has got to be resolved. The jurisdiction must be based in reality.”

Mr Stevens was jailed for nine months suspended for two years after being convicted of failing to notify a change of circumstances and of making dishonest representation to obtain benefit.

Mrs Stevens was handed a four month suspended term for dishonest representation to obtain benefit.

Source

28 Jan 2019

Serious benefit fraud brings slap on the wrist

A Reading woman who claimed more than £60,000 in benefits for care her disabled daughter never received has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Bia Abdul, 45, submitted bogus invoices for private care services between 2013 and 2016 in order to receive payments.

She was found guilty at Reading Crown Court of eight fraud offences, and handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.

Abdul was also ordered to do 50 hours of unpaid community service.

Reading Borough Council said Abdul went to "extensive lengths" to defraud the authority and "used the funds for things unrelated to her daughter's care package".

The deceit was uncovered after discrepancies were spotted by council staff in her paperwork.

Recorder Patrick Talbot told Abdul she had shown "no remorse" and that her "culpability was high", a statement from Reading Borough Council said.

A jury found her guilty following a 12-day trial of fraud by abuse of position, concealing criminal property, three counts of furnishing false information and three counts of fraud by false representation.

Reading council said it was believed to be the "largest ever" fraud in the UK related to the direct payments system.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading's council's lead member for adult social care, said: "The successful prosecution was the culmination of a proactive investigation which successfully uncovered a large-scale fraud of the direct payments system. This was a very difficult offence to identify and prove, and shows just how much effort went into concealing this particular fraud."

Abdul was not ordered to cover costs due to her inability to pay.

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