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

16 Dec 2016

£49k tax credit thief gets off lightly

A woman who committed a £49,000 tax fraud while employed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Naila Ali claimed £49,837 in tax credits over a 13 year period, but failed to declare her full circumstances and the fact she was living with her husband and drawing a joint income. The 46-year-old was working at HMRC’s Russell Street office, in Middlesbrough, in an administrative role when the fraud was uncovered by investigators.

During the course of the scam Ali, from Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, splashed out on a £175,000 house and paid for its renovations, it was discovered.

Joff Parsons, head of internal governance criminal investigations at HMRC, said: “For more than a decade, Ali pocketed thousands of pounds knowing that she wasn’t entitled to it. She is now paying the price for stealing money that should have been paid to those who really needed the extra support.”

The defendant admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent payment of tax credits, totalling £49,837, between 2003 and 2016. She has since repaid the full amount after being given a chance to return the funds.

Sentencing her at Teesside Crown Court, Judge Sean Morris said she had only avoided custody by the skin of her teeth.

He said: “Bearing in mind the country has all of its money back, I don’t see why the country should have to pay out to put you up in a room in a prison. What you can do is work for free for the country instead. Your motivation was not greed, but insecurity that you would be left to fend for yourself. This money was squirreled away in case that happened.”

Ali received a six month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was also ordered by the judge to carry out 120 hours unpaid work in the community.


8 Nov 2016

Tax credit fraud leads to compensation order

A mum-of-three who cheated the benefits system out of more than £32,000 was ordered to hand it back.

Joanne Crumbleholme was jailed for 24 weeks in July after admitting being knowingly concerned in fraudulently obtaining tax credits.

Liverpool Crown Court that she had begun her claim legitimately after splitting up with her husband Paul Crumbleholme. When she got back together with her husband, who was working, she did not reveal this and carried on claiming.

Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said that between April 2010 and September last year Crumbleholme, who has no previous convictions, fraudulently obtained £32,472.

The 45-year-old of Edmund Drive, Leigh, re-appeared at court for a Proceeds of Crime Hearing and an out-of-court settlement was reached.

It was agreed that she had benefitted by £33,836, allowing for inflation, and has realisable assets, involving her share of the family home and a Nissan car, totalling £35,000.

The judge, Recorder Michael Blakey, imposed a confiscation and a compensation order in the sum of £32,472 to HMRC. If the money is not repaid in three months she faces 18 months imprisonment in default.

Source with picture

14 Sep 2016

Concentrix claims £300m savings but failed in duty of care

Concentrix, the US firm accused of incorrectly withdrawing tax credits from hundreds of claimants, will not have its contract renewed, HMRC says. The firm, employed by the government to cut tax credit fraud and overpayment, will, however, complete its current contract which expires in May 2017.

In the eight months until then Concentrix will work on clearing outstanding cases, said HMRC.

Concentrix said it had operated "within the guidance set by HMRC". "The HMRC statement not to renew the contract attacks our professional credibility, and the commitment of our staff who have performed determinedly, despite the issues with HMRC policies and procedures," said a spokesperson.

Concentrix won a £75m contract to try to save the government more than £1bn in incorrect or fraudulent tax credit payments in May last year.

But in a statement on Tuesday, HMRC's chief executive Jon Thompson said: "While it's right that we ensure that tax credits customers only receive the money to which they're entitled, it is vital that those customers have a high level of service. That's why we have decided not to extend our contract with Concentrix and HMRC is redeploying 150 staff so that customers can get through to advisers and resolve any issues about their claim."

The Treasury has revealed 120 cases since last October where Concentrix did not "fully" meet the performance standards laid out in its contract. But it is feared the actual number may be higher. The Facebook campaign group Concentrix Mums, which has 5,600 members, says hundreds more people have been affected by errors.

Labour MP and chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field, who had urged the government to investigate concerns over Concentrix, welcomed HMRC's decision, saying the firm's "reign of terror" was coming to a close. "The government has acted decisively in protecting vulnerable Britain. This holds out huge prospects and, for some exploiters, horror, in the near future," he added.

The BBC earlier reported the case of Nicola McKenzie, a teenage mother who had her child tax credits stopped after she was wrongly accused of being married to a 74-year-old dead man.

Tax credits - the Child Tax Credit and the Working Tax Credit - are government payments made to households on low incomes.

Concentrix's government contract is based on a payment-by-results model, with the "maximisation of revenue flows" as one of its key requirements - meaning it makes more money if it cuts more payments.

But a spokesperson for the firm said it had not been incentivised to make wrong decisions for claimants.

The spokesperson added: "In-fact [we] would be penalised heavily for failure to adhere to HMRC policies and procedures. Through the term of the contract we are pleased to have saved the taxpayer nearly £300m in authentic confirmed tax fraud and error which otherwise would have cost the taxpayer money".

Essentially Concentrix decided to try to bully those in need and do their work on the cheap. Sadly, this may give payment by results a bad name.

13 Sep 2016

Concentrix under attack for crass tax credit errors

A teenage mother had her child tax credits stopped after she was wrongly accused of being married to a dead 74-year-old man, the BBC has learned.

Nicola McKenzie is one of hundreds of people complaining they have been incorrectly punished by the US firm Concentrix, used by the government to cut tax credit fraud and overpayment. She is struggling to feed her son, she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

The government said Concentrix would "not be paid" for wrong decisions.

This is not the point. Do they suffer any penalty if they have people's tax credits stopped wrongly?

The Treasury has revealed 120 cases since last October where the company did not "fully" meet the performance standards laid out in its contract. But it is feared the actual number may be higher. The Facebook campaign group Concentrix Mums, which has 5,600 members, says hundreds more people have been affected by errors.

Labour MP Louise Haigh is demanding that Concentrix be stripped of its contract, saying: "They've stopped people's benefits on a quite incredible scale in order to chase profits."

Ms McKenzie, a 19-year-old single mother from West Yorkshire, received a letter from the company saying her child tax credits would be cancelled. "Basically they were accusing me of being married to a 74-year-old bloke that used to live here way before I did, saying that it's a normal thing for my kind of age," she said. "When I spoke to the council, they said he was deceased and died on 5 July 2016. Then they said 'Well, you still need to get him to make contact with us'. And I said 'Well, heaven doesn't have opening hours, so what do you want me to do about that?'."

Ms McKenzie said she had lost £64 a week, which meant she was finding it difficult to provide nappies and food for her two-year-old son.

In May last year, Concentrix won a £75m contract to try to save the government more than £1bn in incorrect or fraudulent tax credit payments.

Tax credits - the Child Tax Credit and the Working Tax Credit - are government payments made to households on low incomes. Concentrix's government contract is based on a payment-by-results model, with the "maximisation of revenue flows" as one of its key requirements - meaning it makes more money if it cuts more payments.

Sharon Scargill, a mother from West Yorkshire, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme her tax credits had been cut after she received a letter from the company saying she was living with another woman of whom she had never heard. "I've got £20 to last me two weeks, as of yesterday, to feed me and my daughter and for the bills that I'm supposed to pay and the gas and electric," she said.

Ms Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, said some people receiving the letters were confusing them with a phishing scam, as they asked for "very personal details", such as bank statements and information on partners' details. The problems with Concentrix were on a "grand scale", she added.

But an HM Revenue and Customs spokesperson said support was "available for those who need it", adding: "We take great care to make sure that correct tax credit payments are made to prevent customers getting into debt, which they may struggle to repay. Payments to Concentrix are based on the quality and accuracy of their work. They will not be paid if the decisions they make about claimants' awards are wrong."

Not paying them is not the point. How are they penalised for having tax credit payments stopped wrongly?

A Concentrix spokesman said: "We recognise that the re-evaluation of individual tax credits claims can be difficult for all concerned. We adopt a rigorous process at every stage to ensure we manage this process responsibly, and in full accordance with the protocols and guidance set by HMRC."

That's a lie.

This blog opposes all benefit fraud. But tackling it this way is utterly wrong.

6 Sep 2016

No jail for £47k tax credit fraud

A woman fraudulently claimed £47,500 in tax credits after failing to tell the authorities she was living with her police officer partner.

Mother-of-three Anna Glynn, 37, received the money between October 2010 and April 2015.

The carer, from Rhyl, Denbighshire, pleaded guilty to fraud at Mold Crown Court and was given an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to carry out 240 hours' unpaid work.

During the sentencing hearing the court heard Glynn's partner knew nothing about what was happening.

"It is a great pity that you did not share your circumstances with your partner, a police officer," Judge Geraint Walters said. "Had you done so, you may have received some guidance about the inappropriateness of what was going on."

Defence barrister Simon Killeen said the relationship was "on and off" for times during the period of offending.


2 Sep 2016

£70k tax credit fraudster jailed

A Bermondsey property investor and caterer who stole £70,515 in a tax credit fraud has been jailed for twenty months.

Khalid Farid, 59, pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming tax credits despite pocketing more than £509,000 from property sales.

Farid’s crime was uncovered by an HMRC property taskforce, set up to identify those who seek to avoid paying tax from property transactions. Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeting specific sectors and locations where strong evidence is held to indicate a high risk of tax evasion and fraud.

Investigators found Farid had eight London properties, purchased in his wife’s name, which he’d sold over the previous nine years.

Although making substantial profits, at the same time Farid was claiming tax credits for himself and his family. He lied and claimed the only home he had was his rented flat, which, until recently, he used as a base to cook and deliver Indian takeaways.

David Margree, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Farid deliberately abused a system designed to provide financial help to the most vulnerable people in our society. Honest taxpayers and those in need of benefits often don’t have the opportunity to own one property, but Farid profited from the sale of eight. He knew what he was doing was wrong but had no intention of playing by the rules, thinking he could hide his crime by using his wife’s name as a smokescreen. But he was wrong and now is paying the price for his dishonesty with a jail sentence.”

In summing up the Recorder, Mr V Robinson QC, said: “In spite of Mr Farid’s early guilty plea, he had made a serious financial gain and sending him to prison may send a clear message to others considering benefit fraud in the future.”

The property sales will now be subject to a Capital Gains Assessment and confiscation proceedings to recover the proceeds of his crime will follow.

Source with picture

6 Jul 2016

Benefit cheat took £39k after claiming to be single mum

A benefit cheat who swindled the taxpayer out of almost £40,000 by repeatedly claiming she was a single parent living alone has been spared jail.

Bolton Crown Court heard that Carly Howarth initially made a legitimate claim for tax credits as a single mum, but then, in October 2012 she failed to disclose that she was living with her partner.

Chloe Fordham, prosecuting, said 27-year-old Howarth filled in a form again claiming she was not part of a couple and repeated the assertion in three phone conversations with the authorities. Her deception, failing to reveal she was living with Scott Burns, continued until July last year and meant she was paid a total of £39,232.41 she was not entitled to.

Howarth, from Ainsworth, pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to disclose information.

Mark Friend, defending, said Howarth, who has children aged 10 and three, had not been dishonest from the outset, is remorseful and accepts she will have to repay the money. He added that she is in rent arrears on her shared ownership home, which will probably have to be sold and stressed that the payments wrongly made to her were not spent on a lavish lifestyle. “She is a hard-working, socially responsible, decent young woman in every other respect,” he said.

Sentencing her to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, Judge Elliot Knopf told her: “There are strict rules to ensure to ensure they [benefits] go to people who qualify for these benefits. It is not a bottomless purse. It is crucial that people understand that if they are tempted to break the rules, as you were, they will be taken to court. There is no getting away from it – you knowingly and repeatedly made false statements to the authorities.”

In addition to the suspended prison sentence Howarth was told she must undertake 120 hours unpaid work and complete a rehabilitation activity programme. A proceeds of crime hearing will take place in court on October 26 in an attempt to reclaim the money from Howarth.


1 Jul 2016

Suspended sentence for £46k benefit fraud mother

A benefits cheat claiming to be a single mother was caught out when investigators found a stash of items belonging to her partner at her home.

Kelly Hinnighan’s boyfriend’s football trophies and photographs were on display along with children’s pictures on the fridge with the message “hello daddy”.

The Middlesbrough mum-of-four illegally pocketed more than £46,000 in benefits between 2011 and last year, Teesside Crown Court was told yesterday.

Her solicitor, John Nixon, said her relationship was unconventional and she often did not receive support from her partner, who worked away from home. Mr Nixon told the judge, Recorder David Dobbin: “There’s no question this claim was made to support a luxurious lifestyle which is always an aggravating feature. It occurred at a time when she had to give up work, with possibly not the best support. The claim for Tax Credits was not fraudulent from the outset.”

Hinnighan, 39, from Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to notify the authorities of a change in her circumstances.

She wept with relief as she was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with Probation Service supervision for 12 months.

Mr Recorder Dobbin told her: “It was a very substantial sum of money, and the offending is over a substantial period, and it crosses the custody threshold. However, I have to take into account your overall position, you pleaded guilty at he first opportunity and you are a lady who has four children. You have a part-time job, and in addition to that you are making efforts to pay off the amount that you had wrongly received. If you continue in work, you will be able to increase the regular amounts and get rid of that debt sooner.”

Prosecutor Liam O’Brien told the court that the fraud was discovered in March last year, when a search of the home showed Hinnighan’s partner was living with her.

She initially denied being dishonest and told investigators the man - with whom she has two children - was her landlord.

So she didn't own up at the first opportunity after all. And she felt she could afford four children.


26 Apr 2016

Benefit thief mother avoids jail

An Ingleby Barwick mum has narrowly escaped jail after fraudulently claiming more than £33,000 in benefits.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Sarah Linkse applied for tax credits she was not entitled to for around four years “on the basis that she was was single and on a low wage”, despite actually living with her partner.

The total payments made to Linksey, a mum-of-one and with another child “on the way”, was £33,575, between November 2010 and January 2015.

She had earlier admitted to two charges - one of being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity with a view to obtaining tax credit, and another of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.

The court heard that Linksey was facing a jail term as the amount fraudulently claimed was more than £30,000.

Alex Bousfield, defending, said Linksey was previously of good character. He added: “She is clearly very anxious about what’s happened. She no longer is in receipt of benefits. She has one child and another on the way. She has learned her lesson and is very remorseful about what’s happened.”

Judge Howard Crowson told Linksey: “Benefit fraud costs everyone, which is why it’s taken so seriously.”

However, he acknowledged that she had a child to take care of, and another on the way, and said he could see no real benefit to an immediate jail sentence.

He gave Linksey a 36-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. She was also ordered to attend 10 days of a rehabilitation activity.


What actual punishment did she get? Do we get our money back?

16 Feb 2016

£32k benefits thief jailed

A woman who claimed she was single and claimed £32,000 worth of benefits despite being married has been jailed. (h/t Dave)

Margaret Grieve was caught out when investigators saw her being congratulated on her wedding anniversary on Facebook.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard how Grieve, who works for NHS Tayside at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, had claimed to be a single mum who had separated from her husband. But she was still living with him, sharing the cost of groceries and childcare.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators found Grieve’s Facebook page had a profile picture of the couple at a ball in 2011.

Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court both Grieve and her husband had claimed to have separated in 2002 when confronted as part of the probe.

She said: “As a result of intelligence received by DWP an investigation into the accused and her lifestyle commenced. Frederick Grieve’s car insurance was paid from the accused’s bank account and the address linked to that account was the accused’s. Some household bills, including the council tax on the accused’s home, were paid from that account. Both were jointly liable for council tax there and no single person’s discount was applied. On her Facebook page, set up in 2010, she stated she had been married to him since 1990 and her profile picture featured them together. In 2011 a friend wished the accused a happy wedding anniversary and the accused replied with her thanks.

“Due to her actions she obtained £32,000 to which she was not entitled.”

Grieve, 53, from Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge under the Tax Credits Act committed between 2008 and 2011 at her home address.

Defence solicitor David Sinclair said: “If she receives a custodial sentence she will lose her job. She could pay back the money at £120 a month. The benefit to society in general would outweigh a punitive sentence. There would be a cost to the NHS to train someone for her job if she is given custody and the chance of regaining the sums taken would be lost. However, she is ready for what may be visited on her.”

It's a bizarre argument that NHS employees should be treated more leniently than the rest of the population.

Sheriff Tom Hughes jailed Grieve for nine months, reduced from 12 for her early guilty plea.

He said: “The difficulty that you face is that this was not a one-off incident. It was a course of action over a number of years and a considerable amount of money was involved.

“Unfortunately custody is inevitable due to the nature of the offence and the values involved.”


Contrast this sentence with yesterday's post.

26 Jun 2015

Public rightly being softened up for tax credit reform

Some £17bn was wrongly paid out in tax credits in the decade following the scheme’s launch.

Either fraud or mistakes by officials were responsible for the huge sum. And despite efforts by the taxman to reduce the amount handed out in error, the annual total was still £1.2billion over the last 12 months.

It means more than £23m a week is being given to people who have either deliberately lied or failed to inform HMRC about a change in their circumstances.

That amounts to nearly one pound in every £25 paid out in working and child tax credits in 2013/14, the most recent figures available – and a decade since the system was set up by Labour.

The revelations will increase calls for reform of the system, which critics say is wide open to abuse and ‘traps’ people in poverty.

Last night Dia Chakravarty, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
It is unacceptable that billions of taxpayers’ money is being wasted like this, particularly as we’re constantly told that any tightening of public finances will result in loss of front-line services. The benefit system needs an urgent overhaul so that it can really be a safety net for those who truly need it. Taxpayers simply cannot afford this scale of waste and it’s high time our politicians took the task of tackling it seriously.
George Osborne is expected to target tax credits in his Budget in two weeks’ time as he seeks to find the first tranche of £12billion in welfare cuts.

Senior Tories think tax credits are often used by employers as an excuse for low pay, while supporters say they help the lowest paid and taking them away would amount to an attack on the working poor.

In 2004/5 fraud and error amounted to £1.17billion. It increased to £1.5billion the following year and remained at that level until 2008/9 when it topped £2billion.

In 2010 it peaked at £2.27billion and has since fallen to £1.5billion in 2012/13 and then £1.2billion in 2013/14.

Fictitious figures

HMRC analysis of the data suggests around 820,000 claims are wrong or fraudulent. More than 380,000 families benefited to the tune of £1,000 or more.

Mistakes and fraud often involve claimants not telling the taxman when their circumstances change – such as not declaring a partner or failing to record an income.

Last night HMRC was unable to state how much of the total lost in fraud and error it had recovered over the decade following the scheme’s launch.

Set up by Gordon Brown, the complex system involves two classes of benefit – working and child tax credit – which are worth a total of £30billion and paid to around 4.5 million families.

In 2008, when the former Labour leader was prime minister, he increased the ‘income disregard’ threshold – the level below which benefits are written off – by £2,500 to £25,000. However, the scheme has been attacked for giving companies an excuse to pay staff rock bottom wages.

A study by Citizens UK found that Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons alone account for almost £1billion a year in tax credit payments.

On Monday the Prime Minister vowed to end Britain’s ‘welfare merry-go-round’ and move to a ‘higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare society’.

At the same time Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith attacked firms which pay ‘poverty wages’. He said companies ‘should pay higher salaries’ rather than relying on the taxpayer to top up staff incomes, and accused Labour of cynically boosting tax credits before previous elections to ‘buy votes’.

He added: ‘What we want to see is companies taking a fuller share of paying people a reasonable and decent salary – that is an absolute fact.

Companies should pay higher salaries, which would mean less tax credits from us.’ In the past, Mr Duncan Smith has described the tax credit system as ‘not fit for purpose’.

A spokesman for HMRC said:
The level of error and fraud in the tax credit system is at its lowest level since tax credits were introduced in 2003, and around £1billion less than in 2011. New measures to tackle error and fraud together with a significant increase in the number of direct interventions have delivered real success against the minority who aim to cheat the system.


2 Feb 2015

Ex-magistrate jailed for tax and benefits frauds

A disgraced former magistrate who lived a life of luxury on the proceeds of tax fraud and money laundering has been jailed.

Zaher Somani, a former magistrate in Loughborough, built up a huge property portfolio, sent his children to private schools and frequented casinos on the back of his crimes.

However, HMRC investigators unmasked him as a tax evader and he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court to be jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Four co-conspirators, including his wife, appeared alongside the 58-year-old and were all given suspended prison sentences.

The court heard Somani, of White Street, Quorn, committed the offences while he was the owner of two Loughborough taxi companies, A1 and Charnwood Taxis, which operated 30 private hire vehicles. HMRC investigators found between 2004 and 2011, he concealed his true income on self-assessment tax returns. The scale of the fraud was estimated at £250,000.

Family members helped hide his firms’ earnings by using bank accounts and assets in Jersey, Canada, India, Turkey and Morocco.

Somani’s wife Ashraf (43), brother Pyarali (61), sister-in-law Shabina (50) and officer manager Darren Green (44) were also sentenced for their part in the conspiracy.

Sentencing, Judge Sampson said:
Zaher Somani lied to the bitter end and has been shamed and disgraced. The offending spanned many years while sitting as a magistrate, pretending to be a man of integrity and honesty. The hypocrisy could not have been greater.
Stuart Taylor, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said:
Zaher Somani was a serving magistrate at the time of these offences, a man supposed to uphold the law. Instead, he was stealing from the taxpayer. This man and his family lived well beyond their legitimate means, until HMRC uncovered their extensive tax evasion, associated money laundering and benefit fraud. Somani and his family failed to pay their full taxes, at the expense of honest taxpayers.
Zaher’s wife, Ashraf Somani, 44, also of White Street, Quorn, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. Along with her husband, she admitted tax evasion totalling £250,000 for self assessment income tax fraud, unpaid VAT and tax credits fraud.

Zaher’s brother, Pyarali Somani (61), of Mayo Close, Loughborough, worked as a taxi driver for both companies. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. He admitted self assessment income tax fraud and tax credits fraud totalling £60,000.

Pyarali’s wife, Shabina Somani (51), also of Mayo Close, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months. She was ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. She admitted tax credits fraud jointly with her husband totalling £16,049.

Taxi driver Darren Green (43), of Beaumanor Road, Leicester, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and given a nine-month supervision order. He admitted income tax fraud and fraudulently claiming tax credits worth £11,229 and involvement in tax evasion totalling £250,000.


22 Jan 2015

Another state worker fiddles her tax credits

Following on from yesterday's report about a government employee fiddling her tax credits, here is another one.

This civil servant fraudulently claimed more than £86,000 in benefits by lying about her personal circumstances. She has been jailed.

Bolanle Shote, 41, from Basildon, pretended she was a single parent despite having lived with her partner for nearly a decade.

The former HM Revenue and Customs worker made multiple false claims for tax credits.

Cheryl Turton, Senior Manager for HMRC, said:
Tax credits are designed to support those hard-working families who most need extra financial support. What makes this fraud even more despicable is that Shote was employed by HMRC and knew full well that lying about her personal circumstances was fraud. She went to great lengths to hide her true situation from her colleagues and employer. Offences of this nature are taken very seriously by HMRC and now she has lost her job, her good name and has a criminal record.
Shote, a mother of three, was sentenced to eight months in prison during an appearance at Basildon Crown Court.

She claimed tax credits as a single parent from February 2003 until August 2012, when she changed her claim and told HMRC her husband had moved in with her.

Suspicions were raised after it emerged she had made joint mortgage and loan applications during the nine year period.

Shote resigned from HMRC in November 2013 - nine months before she was charged with dishonestly claiming tax credits.

She pleaded guilty to ten offences and repaid the full amount before being sentenced.

Addressing Shote, judge Ian Graham said: “This was a fraud from the outset which continued for over eight years and this, together with the amount involved, means that I have no option but to impose an immediate custodial sentence.”


21 Jan 2015

Benefits clerk fiddled tax credits

A benefits clerk employed to check for bogus claims cheated £50,000 in state handouts after running up debts with payday lenders Wonga. (h/t A Reader)

Caroline Bryon, from Hyde, worked for the Department of Work and Pensions, checking that claims for tax credits were genuine.

But she was secretly fiddling working tax credits and child tax credits herself.

Manchester Crown Court heard mum-of-two Bryon, 34, lied about her childcare costs - claiming they were double what they were - and lied about paying for childcare even when she was on maternity leave.

She also hid the fact that she was living with a partner who was working, racking up £50,344 in overpayments in just two years.

After Bryon’s own claims came under scrutiny from her employers she was sacked, arrested, and pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud by false representation between 2009 and 2011.

But she was spared jail after her defence barrister said locking her up would be ‘catastrophic’ for her two children.

He said her offences happened because she had been drinking heavily, had run up debts to payday lenders, and needed her own means after starting a relationship with a new man.

Jonathan Rogers, prosecuting, said: “The defendant worked for the DWP, processing and checking claims for exactly the type of benefit she was overpaid. One of her childcare providers stated that she asked her to say she had paid her almost double what she had in fact in paid and to backdate it. (Bryon) will have known what checks might be carried out because she carried them out herself.”

Andrew Evans, defending, argued there was ‘no evidence’ she had used her knowledge of the system for personal gain. A trail of documents and emails sent from her work account revealed she was living with her new partner, and showed there was’ no thought or sophistication whatsoever’ to her offence, he added.

“The reason why a 34-year-old lady sits in this court for the first time stem from debt - we have the name Wonga appearing predominantly - we have interest rates of 4000 per cent, we have a debt spiral”, Mr Evans added.

Sentencing her to 14 months, suspended for two years, with 200 hours unpaid work and a requirement to attend a women’s project, Recorder Andrew Thomas QC said her offence was ‘aggravated’ by her job, and that she had cheated her ‘colleagues, friends and neighbours - decent people who work hard and have to pay taxes.’