14 Aug 2018

Barnet prosecutes blue badge offenders

Parking cheats caught using blue badges which were not theirs now have criminal records. (h/t FraudManager)

Barnet Council has fined and prosecuted over 30 drivers caught abusing the system in the last three months.

Council officers also issued cautions to a further 33 motorists during the same period.

Among those prosecuted was 65-year-old Joseph Dan, from Edgware.

He was caught misusing a family member’s badge to park – having already received a warning for the same crime in another borough. He told officers he did not realise what he was doing but pleaded guilty to charges at Willesden Magistrates’ Court in June. He was fined £280, ordered to pay costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £30.

Council Leader, Cllr Richard Cornelius, said: “Blue badges are intended for residents who are in genuine need, not for those looking for a way to park wherever they want, free of charge.

“The number of prosecutions brought by our CAFT officers shows just how much hard work goes into making sure drivers abusing the system are caught and dealt with.”

In April, Kalaiselvi Sripalan, 53, from Colindale, used a dead relative’s badge and received a £400 fine and an order to pay £600 in costs after pleading guilty at Willesden Magistrates’ Court.


10 Aug 2018

Husband "unaware" of wife's cleaning job

A grandmother took taxpayers to the cleaners to the tune of £46,000 while secretly working as a Mrs Mop.

Pensioner Bernadette Graham’s husband was claiming various benefits on the basis neither he nor his wife were employed.

But Graham, 67, had been cleaning part time for years, a court heard.

Newcastle Crown Court was told her husband was not prosecuted because even he didn’t realise she was working.

Now Graham, who has never been in trouble before, has been given a suspended prison sentence and was ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Recorder Ben Nolan QC told her: “You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to benefit fraud involving a large sum of money over a long period of time.”

Graham admitted two counts of benefit fraud between August 2005 and January 2011 and between June 2014 and March 2015.

Jessica Slaughter, prosecuting, said: “The defendant’s husband got a number of benefits, pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, from August 2005, on the basis he nor his wife had any other income. She had been working part time as a cleaner for a number of different employers.”

When Recorder Nolan asked why Graham had been charged and not her husband, Miss Slaughter replied: “He said he didn’t know his wife was working. The defendant accepted she had not told her husband she was working, therefore he was believed when he said he didn’t know she was working.”

Graham was sentenced to five months imprisonment, suspended for two years and must carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

Vic Laffey, defending, told the court: “She has a lot of grandchildren she looks after.”

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9 Aug 2018

Stamford Hill’s Jewish leaders want apology from High Court judge over comments on fraud and tax evasion

Jewish leaders have asked a High Court QC to withdraw his comments about benefit fraud and tax evasion within Stamford Hill’s Haredi community – and issue an apology.

Miriam Kliers alleged in court that a house she and her husband Shlomo bought in Kyverdale Road had been put in the name of her younger brother Mordechai Schmerler so they could claim housing benefit.

She also claimed some of the money used to buy the £418,000 home was purported charitable donations but was in fact her wages, which had been disguised to avoid paying tax.

During the property hearing, brought to light in last week’s Hackney Gazette, QC Murray Rosen said:
This was influence within this particular sect. It was influence which purported to have the backing of religious leadership, incredible though that may sound, and it was influence exerted by dominant males within this family and this society. 
To be confronted by a plan of this nature which, on the evidence, is common practice amongst esteemed and respected religious and community leaders, is one which must cause very great concern to any court seeking to administer the law and the process of justice and legal remedy in this country if not elsewhere.
But Mr Rosen said he wouldn’t want to speculate on how the defendants would respond to allegations about “rampant illegality” in Stamford Hill’s Haredi community.

Now the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations – an umbrella group headquartered in Stamford Hill that has more than 6,000 members from Haredi communities – has hit back.

The group said in a statement:
We are disappointed to read of Mr Rosen’s reported remarks about our community, which are based on a single testimony. The Rabbinate places the utmost importance on upholding the law of the land and does not condone any activity which runs contrary to it. On this basis, we question the basis of his offensive generalisation. We are unaware of any other such cases and would ask Mr Rosen QC to withdraw his comments as a matter of urgency and issue a fulsome apology.

8 Aug 2018

Plymouth woman admits £43k benefit fraud over more than three years

A woman has admitted a £43,000 benefit fraud over more than three years.

Lying Lorraine Deadman, aged 63, failed to tell the authorities she was sharing a home with her husband, a court heard. Deadman pocketed housing benefit and employment support allowance which she did not deserve.

She pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions and Plymouth City Council of a change of circumstances affecting her claims.

The defendant admitted at Plymouth Crown Court she failed to promptly notify them she was living with Colin Deadman between November 2013 and March last year.

Deadman, from Stonehouse, had denied the offences before city magistrates last month but changed her pleas during her first appearance at the senior court.

Will Willden, barrister for Deadman, said she had no previous convictions.

He added she had mental health and physical difficulties.

Mr Willden said that she had started paying back the money she had been overpaid.

Judge Paul Darlow adjourned sentence until September 7 for a probation report. She was released on unconditional bail.

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7 Aug 2018

Mother wrongly claimed £21k in benefits

A mother claimed £21,000 in housing benefit and tax credits after “forgetting” to tell the Department of Work and Pensions she lived with her husband.

Ashley Louise Staveley, 28, told officials she was a single parent so she could fraudulently claim the cash.

But the shopworker and barmaid was living with her husband in Hartlepool and failed to notify the authorities, reports Teeside Live.

The probation service told the court there were “a lot of emotional issues” which led to her forgetting to mention she was not living alone.

Forgetting? Oh please

Staveley admitted fraudulently receiving benefits which amounted to a total of more than £20,900.

A probation officer told the court: “She has been in a relationship for the past six years and during that period it’s been mainly on and off.”

He added that she was separated from her husband during her two pregnancies and had to have tests for cervical cancer – which came back clear.

Magistrates heard this “impacted her careless thinking” and that she was “just getting by financially”.

She was given a 12-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and must pay £85 court costs as well as an £85 victim surcharge.


6 Aug 2018

Sweden calling

A 40-year-old Iraqi woman has now been caught after she fraudulently received a large amount in Swedish benefits while living in her home country.

The woman did not report to the authorities that she moved to Iraq and continued to receive Swedish social benefits.

The offence took place from summer 2013 to summer 2017. Investigators at the Swedish Social Insurance Fund were sent a 66-page document about the suspect.

She reported incorrect information and received housing allowance, parental allowance, child allowance and childbirth allowance, a total of 521,037 Swedish crowns (around 50,000 euros), despite returning to Iraq,” says police spokesman Richard Glantz.

It is currently unknown how the woman will repay her fraudulently received benefits.

I think we can guess.


3 Aug 2018

Glasgow police target large scale benefit fraud

Homes and businesses have been raided in Glasgow as part of a major crackdown on "industrial scale" benefit fraud.

Police said Operation Arnos, which targeted addresses in Govanhill, led to 16 arrests and the seizure of over 200 productions from a business.

More than 100 officers were joined by staff from the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs, and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

An organised crime group is behind the fraud, which could be as much as £4.6m.

Police said the first phase targeted members of the crime gang while the second focused on the facilitators.

The force confirmed 14 individuals were arrested on suspicion of benefit fraud, mortgage fraud and money laundering.

A woman was arrested on warrant and a man was arrested in connection with a cannabis cultivation, which included several hundred plants with a potential street value of about £200,000.

Fraudulent documentation was also recovered from a vehicle which had been used as a mobile office.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald said the offensive has been planned since late last year:
Today's operation is the largest of its kind since Police Scotland came into being. Quite simply it is targeting organised crime in one of our local communities here in Govanhill. What we are dealing with today is an almost industrial scale benefit fraud, an attack on the UK benefits system by an organised crime group.
Assistant Chief Constable MacDonald said the group had been active for some time:
This gang has been operating in and around Govanhill using local premises and a mobile office to carry out a variety of crimes, which are undoubtedly impacting on the local community. People have been claiming benefits to which they are not entitled and using false IDs but this activity has been orchestrated by individuals who are reaping millions of pounds from the benefits system while also claiming benefits themselves. We fully expect there will be more arrests as a result of this operation over the coming weeks and months.
Officers are also looking for evidence of people trafficking and illegal immigration.

A total of 37 premises were visited on Wednesday and a number searched.

The haul of more than 200 productions from a business in Govanhill included documentation and electronic devices.

Officers attended a number of addresses intending to speak to residents claiming housing benefit but several had clearly been empty for a prolonged period.

Clearly the checking to stop taxpayers' cash being wasted isn't up to much.

To date about £1.5m of fraudulent benefit claims have already been stopped

Bob Gallacher, senior investigations leader at the DWP, warned this type of criminality is occurring in cities throughout the UK.

And Joe Hendry, assistant director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said:
This is suspected benefit fraud on a massive scale. Benefit fraud is theft - it takes taxpayers' money from our vital public services and puts it into the pockets of criminals. We will continue working with our partners to investigate and stop these offences.


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2 Aug 2018

Lambeth recovers 60 properties in 12 months

Thirty three cases of internal fraud were reported to Lambeth Council during the 2017/18 financial year. This led to ten dismissals and two prosecutions.

The details are contained in the Internal Audit and Counter Fraud Annual Report 2017/18 report. This will be considered in more detail when the Corporate Committee meets on 26 July.

The report also states that 79 properties were recommended for recovery. This resulted in 60 being recovered by the Council.

The number of Council Tax frauds has increased: fraudulent payments total £48,037 which is an increase of 175% compared to 2016/17.

Another area where fraud has taken place in the misuse of blue badge parking. This led to forty two prosecutions by Lambeth Council.


1 Aug 2018

Benefit fraud case takes nearly 3 years to reach court

A disgraced politician has been found guilty of claiming thousands in housing and disability benefits he was not entitled to.

Former Fylde councillor Albert Pounder, 74, who represented the Conservative party, had denied claiming £10,422,60 in disability living allowance between August 2014 and May 2016, and £467.23 of housing benefit from Fylde Council - the authority he represented - between April 2016 and May 2016.

But jurors at Preston Crown Court found him guilty of two charges of benefit fraud following his trial.

Pounder represented the village of Staining and was made portfolio holder on Fylde Council for customer and operational services before retiring on health grounds last year.

He dishonestly failed to notify the authorities about his true mobility and care needs.

The court previously heard he has been in receipt of DLA since 1996 and was receiving the high rate mobility component of £57.45 per week and a middle rate care component of £55.10.

In a DLA form in 1995 Mr Pounder said walking short distances made him “breathless”, and he needed to “rest to regain my breath”. He said he could only walk 50 yards before he felt severe discomfort, and that he needed assistance getting out of the bath, and with washing his hair, and sometimes needed help climbing stairs.

Surveillance was also conducted at the Staining Village field day in September 2015 at which he was seen walking 200 yards without help before folding and carrying a table.


Surveillance was conducted nearly three years ago.

31 Jul 2018

Benefit fraud investigation took years

A benefit fraudster grandmother illegally claimed more than £41,000 which she spent on luxury holidays to Egypt. (h/t Fraud Manager)

Geraldine Thomas, 54, of Bargoed , failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Caerphilly council about a change of circumstances over a period of five years.

The defendant told the authorities she was living on her own, but her partner Raymond Adams had been living with her since 2011 and while she was claiming benefits he was working and contributing to the household income.

A sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court heard Thomas been in a relationship with Mr Adams on and off since 2000 and had rekindled their relationship in 2011.

From that date to 2016 Thomas claimed income support worth £24,174, employment and support allowance worth £115, housing benefit worth £16,136 and council tax benefit worth ££925. The total amount of benefits which had been illegally claimed was £41,350.

Thomas used money she had illegally obtained to fund a number of luxury holidays to destinations such as Egypt for her and her partner.

An investigation was launched by the DWP and Gwent Police, who monitored Thomas and Mr Adams over a number of years and used a "search and seizure" order to enter the defendant's home and gain evidence.

After being arrested and charged Thomas later pleaded guilty to three counts of benefit fraud.

Defence barrister Kathryn Lane said her client had never been before the courts before.

She added: "[Thomas] foolishly engaged in this offending and is thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed by it. She comes to court today knowing the consequences she faces. Ms Thomas is a valued and routinely relied and depended-upon family member and a valued member of the community.

"There have been a number of bereavements of close family members recently which has had an effect on her and she has been picking up the pieces of those closest to her. This does not excuse her behaviour but she is a lady who would find it very hard in custody. She is suffering from mental ill health and physical ill health having suffered from a stroke and two hip replacements."

Addressing the mother-of-one and grandmother-of-two, Recorder Patrick Harrington QC said Thomas had done something very serious.

He said: "No mention has been made of your lifestyle and I know what the money has been spent on. It was spent on an expensive holiday wasn't it? You were not the instigator of this but you continued the relationship and you continued claiming the money for a very long time.

"Benefit fraud is rife and costs honest hardworking people a lot of money. You committed offences which aggregated more than £41,000. That is a great deal of money and it is your fault that you have found yourself in this position now."

Thomas was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place on November 13 to determine how much Thomas will be ordered to pay back.

After the case Donna James, senior leader for fraud in south Wales for the DWP, said: "This is a blatant act of fraud. As a department we are taking action to retrieve overpayments but also any assets amassed while the offences that have been committed were ongoing."

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