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

13 Feb 2015

Mother & daughter eventually convicted of long-term benefit fraud

A mother and daughter who claimed they were so disabled they could barely walk stole £50,000 while working in hospitals, a court has heard.

Wendy Perry, 66, took £28,500 of taxpayers’ money over five years working as a medical secretary, while her daughter Nicola Manson-Perry, 48, stole £20,400 as an accounts clerk over nine years.

Both women, who shared a home in Wednesbury, West Midlands, received thousands of pounds worth of Disability Living Allowance pay-outs after claiming they could hardly walk unaided.

Perry claimed she had to hold onto the wall for balance to ensure she did not fall while walking to her desk at Sandwell Hospital in West Bromwich. She also claimed she had difficulty communicating and filling in forms and even increased the pay-out by stating she needed constant care both day and night.

But Perry was caught when DWP investigators spent four days secretly filming her walking to her car at the hospital in April 2013. The clear footage shows Perry, who even parked in a disabled bay, strolling to her vehicle quickly without any aids and with no sign of a limp.

Investigators then widened their probe to include her daughter after it was discovered Manson-Perry was also picking up DLA pay-outs by claiming it took her ten minutes to walk two metres (7ft).

Both women were arrested by police at their home in August 2013 - but maintained they were innocent of any benefit fraud.

However, they were both convicted of failing to report a change in circumstances after separate trials at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Perry, who has worked for the NHS since 1995, is due to be sentenced on March 6. Manson-Perry was spared jail when she was sentenced yesterday to 34 weeks in prison, suspended for two years.

Judge Robin Onions told her:
At some stage your mobility significantly increased and I am satisfied you knew that. Two work colleagues said they did not notice any restriction to your mobility. At no stage did you need mobility aids as you walked from your car to the office and walked along corridors to meetings. You convinced yourself that because you had other medical problems this, in some sense, justified you in continuing in this unjustified claim. You should now discuss with your mother how you are jointly going to pay back the debt you owe to the state.
The court heard Manson-Perry, who is married without children, had been employed by the NHS since 2004 and worked as a £22,000-a-year accounts clerk at Birmingham City Hospital.

At one stage she claimed it took her ten minutes to walk just two metres but colleagues told the DWP that they never noticed any restriction to her mobility.

She claimed to have a back condition and difficulty with her knee, while her mother said she had a variety of medical problems.

The court heard the women’s claims were not fraudulent from the outset but neither reported improvements in their condition that affected their right to the benefit.

A spokesman for the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals where the women worked, confirmed they had both been suspended.

They added: ‘The Trust is aware that two members of staff have been found guilty of offences related to benefit fraud. Upon their conviction both members of staff were suspended whilst formal investigations are ongoing to assess whether disciplinary action should be taken. The formal investigations are expected to conclude in March.’

Source with video

27 Feb 2014

£35k Kung Fu benefit cheat not jailed

Mark Kemp, 58, pocketed £35,000 in Disability Living Allowance over a 15-year period, despite teaching martial arts across the country and becoming an expert in Ju-Jitsu.

To expose him, investigators infiltrated his sessions and saw him throwing kicks and blocking punches – having claimed he could not walk without a stick. He was even filmed playing golf and enjoying a family day out at Southport Pleasure Beach during the probe by the DWP. He was also pictured on the ju-jitsu club’s website.

We keep getting told benefit fraud can be prosecuted more easily through data matching. But investigations like this take up a lot of time and cost money.

And the outcome? He was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and a curfew to stay in his home between 9pm and 7am for four months.

Not much for that work.

18 Feb 2014

No prison for "disabled" £100k benefit cheat mother

A benefits cheat who pocketed around £100,000 in disability allowances claiming she was 'virtually immobile' has been caught on film trampolining.

Sonia Mellor, 33, falsely claimed a raft of benefits on the basis that she was a housebound single parent, exaggerating her condition in order to qualify for the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance.

The mother-of-three also failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that her partner David Walker, who was working, had moved into her home - allowing her to pocket Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

She was caught following a three month long surveillance operation of her home in Worsley, Greater Manchester after an investigation was launched in July 2011.

It took two and a half years to conclude this in court.

The court was played surveillance footage filmed by investigators, which showed Mellor walking her children to school and taking them shopping.

When police seized her laptop and phone following her arrest on January 5, 2012, they were shocked to discover home videos which showed her trampolining at a party in 2010.

Earlier that year, Mellor had filled out a self-assessment form claiming she would be in severe discomfort when walking short distances and needed walking aids.

She claimed she spent all day in bed and needed 24 hour care to help her with everyday tasks.

Sentencing Mellor at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Andrew Blake said:
You do have some serious disabilities which are long-standing, but you have exaggerated them. You pretended that your worst days were every day. The public will be outraged by the sorts of claims you have made and you will be pursued relentlessly in the civil courts for repayments of that money.
The court heard that Mellor, who suffers from epilepsy, arthritis, depression and anxiety, was entitled to some DLA but falsely claimed around £30,000 more than she would have qualified for, by exaggerating her condition.

By failing to notify the department about a change in her circumstances when her partner moved in in May 2008, meaning she was no longer a single parent, Mellor was given around £75,000 in Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit which she wasn’t entitled to.

David Potter, prosecuting, read out a number of text messages sent by Mellor to her partner in August 2010 which said: 'Thanks for putting the bins out. I shouldn’t be putting them out in case someone is watching.'

Another read: 'I have grafted my a*** off today. Our bedroom is spotless, the kid’s bedroom is spotless and the bathrooms are.'

Another said: 'Listen, I might have to buy a wheelchair and give you the money back. I have been reading about visitors and they can send a letter and come the following day. I need to start getting prepared. Just going to lay it on major thick.'

She also falsely claimed around £85,000 in income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit over four years by saying she was a single mother. In fact, she and her children lived with her partner David Walker, a TV engineer.

The court was read texts between the pair in which Mellor discussed misleading disability assessors and ‘getting prepared’ for a visit. One mentioned buying a wheelchair, adding: ‘At least I can wear it out a little in case they visit. Don’t want it looking brand new. I need to get the wheels dirty. Ha ha.’

Mellor, who was joined in court by members of her family, wept throughout the two-hour hearing.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and given a 12-month supervision order plus a four-month curfew.

26 Jan 2014

Million sickness benefit applicants 'fit for work'

Nearly a million people who applied for sickness benefit have been found fit for work, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The DWP claims 980,400 people - 32%, of new applicants for Employment and Support Allowance - were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013.

More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews, it adds.

Surely this is a key number.

But disability campaigners said the work tests were "ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair".

There have been a disappointingly large number of cases where people were unreasonably judged fit to work. The DWP has to get on board this. But the principle has to be right.

A spokesman for Disability Rights UK said many of those passed fit will not, in fact, be capable of entering the workplace in any meaningful sense due to physical or mental health problems. "They are finding people fit for work when they aren't and they are not even giving them the support they need to get a job. It is a disgrace," he told BBC News.

Work Capability Assessments were introduced in 2008 to determine who should receive ESA. Decisions are taken by officials at the Department of Work and Pensions using evidence from the assessments, carried out by private contractors such as Atos Healthcare.

The assessment aims to judge how a person's condition limits their ability to work, rather than conferring eligibility for benefits simply because of a certain impairment.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said:
As part of the government's long-term economic plan, it is only fair that we look at whether people can do some kind of work with the right support - rather than just writing them off on long-term sickness benefits, as has happened in the past. With the right support, many people with an illness, health condition or disability can still fulfil their aspiration to get or stay in work, allowing them to provide for themselves and their family.
The DWP says those who withdrew their claim after face-to-face interviews with officials either returned to work, recovered or claimed a benefit "more appropriate to their situation".

It says a further 467,400 new ESA claimants were granted the benefit but assessed as being able to work in the future with targeted and extra support.

UPDATE In London, more than a third of those who claimed sickness benefits were found to be fit for work. Over 121,400 people who signed on for the ESA were deemed capable of working after checks and had their payments stopped. Another one in three claimants — 121,700 — dropped their weekly claims ahead of a face-to-face assessment of their ability to work, some because they found jobs and others because they said they no longer felt they required disability benefits.

Apparently we spend more than £13 billion a year on sickness and incapacity benefits for almost 2.5 million of working age.