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.

6 Jun 2019

Benefit fraud takes years to reach court

This is an example of how the benefits fraud enforcement system is overwhelmed - so overwhelmed that it is really just there for show. 

This offender's over-claiming was reported back in 2016. He was interviewed in 2017. But his case doesn't reach court until 2019. 

How many millions does this flabby, under-resourced benefit fraud enforcement cost us each year?

And notice that his offending wasn't detected by officials. The fraud was only revealed  by a tip off.

A benefit cheat who found work after suffering a 'very unpleasant' work accident at Wythenshawe Hospital has been spared jail.

Arthur Postill, 65, claimed £36,099 in several benefits which he was not entitled to, Manchester Crown Court heard.

He was caught out after undercover officers launched a surveillance operation.

The claims were legitimate at the start, but Postill, from Altrincham, failed to inform the authorities that he had started casual work with a cleaning company.

The court was told that in 2002 Postill suffered 'significant' injuries in an accident at work at the south Manchester hospital, affecting his ability to work.

He would have been entitled to some smaller amount of benefits if he had declared the work, the court was told.

From November 2010 to March 2016, when he was detected, Postill claimed more than £17,000 in disability living allowance, more than £6,000 in incapacity benefit, more than £5,000 in employment support allowance, £180 in job seeker's allowance and more than £6,000 in housing benefit.

The total of fraudulent claims was £36,099, prosecutor Bob Golinski said. He told how an investigation was launched after the benefit fraud hotline was tipped off about Postill.

Officers found that he was working in some capacity for a contract cleaning company, work which affected his entitlement to benefits. He worked driving cleaners around, transporting items and also working as a cleaner himself, the court was told.

When he was interviewed in February 2017, Postill was shown images of him working and accepted the man in the pictures was him.

Postill has previous convictions, but the last recorded offences were more than 20 years ago for driving matters.

Defending, Rachel White said Postill was taking part in casual work for the company through family connections, as the firm was run by his sister in law.

She pointed out that Postill has been 'out of trouble for many many years', and asked that the defendant be allowed to walk free from court.

Judge Martin Rudland agreed, handing down a six month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Postill must also complete 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

The judge told him: "I am prepared to accept you are a man who has hitherto led a stable and decent life, apart from those blemishes a a younger man. I don't doubt, Mr Postill, that the courts will never see you again."

Postill previously pleaded guilty to six counts of benefit fraud.

Source with picture

5 Jun 2019

Sub-letting tenant applied for right to buy discount

A Plymouth Community Homes tenant has been convicted of a £40,000 fraud in a landmark prosecution.

Adrian Pengilley, aged 43, applied to purchase his former council home under the Right to Buy scheme while illegally sub-letting the property.

He moved out and pocketed the rent from the tenant, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

PCH said that his fraud had denied a needy or vulnerable family from moving into his home – at a huge cost to accommodating them in bed and breakfast.

It is the first case of so-called Right to Buy fraud brought by Plymouth City Council.

Pengilley, a council and PCH tenant for 14 years, stood to benefit from a £39,600 discount on the property’s market value under the scheme – though the sale never actually went through.

Handing him unpaid work, a judge praised the council for bringing the prosecution.

Judge Robert Linford fold Pengilley: “The message needs to get out that it is a criminal offence to behave in the dishonest way which you did.”

Pengilley pleaded guilty to fraud between March 2016 and September 2017. He also admitted sub-letting the property between April 2016 and May 2018.

Christopher Cuddihee, for the council, said Pengilley had asked to purchase his home in Cheriton Close, West Park. But, he added, he moved out and sub-let the property.

Mr Cuddihee said that it meant he was no longer eligible for the Right to Buy scheme.

The barrister said that council investigators looked at his bills and social media accounts and spoke to neighbours to establish the defendant had moved out.

Mr Cuddihee said that property should have been available to vulnerable and needy families in need of social housing. He added that the council would spend thousands on placing the homeless in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Jason Beal, for Pengilley, said the sale process under Right to Buy took longer than his client had anticipated.

He said that because of his history, Pengilley was not going to get a mortgage to buy a home.

Mr Beal added that the defendant and his partner had debts of about £15,000 of debts between them.

Judge Linford handed Pengilley a 12-month community order with 160 hours of unpaid work and ten days of probation’s Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. He must also pay £750 towards the costs of the prosecution.

Cllr Sally Haydon, Cabinet member for Customer Focus and Community Safety, said: "Fraud will not be tolerated in Plymouth, especially when it attempts to deny innocent people of something they really need. Social housing is an essential community asset and with waiting lists at an all time high, it is not for people to make money out of. I welcome today's verdict and hope that it stands as a reminder that we will not be afraid to prosecute those who try and cheat the system."

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3 Jun 2019

Accrington mum caught fiddling benefits a second time

A woman who was claiming carers allowance for looking after her son failed to reveal that she had started work.

Blackburn magistrates heard the omission resulted in an overpayment of £4,284 in benefits.

And the court was told Teresa Williams had a previous conviction for benefit fraud which had resulted in an overpayment of £9,100.

Williams, 53, from Accrington, pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances to the Department of Work and Pensions. She was fined £615 with £85 costs and £61 victim surcharge.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said evidence became available to the department that Williams had secured employment but continued to claim carers allowance for another 18 months.

Williams told investigators she didn't realise the allowance was affected by earnings because she was still caring for her son despite having a job.

Gareth Price, defending, said it had not been a deliberate attempt to take money from the state to which she was not entitled.

"She chose not to read the correspondence which included the warning about declaration," said Mr Price. "Because of her son's condition she would have been entitled to other benefits, such as a mobility car, but did not claim for any of them."

Mr Price said the claim for carers allowance had been in place for 13 years and for the majority of that time had been legitimate.

"She apologises and acknowledges her attention to the documentation should have been better, especially in view of the previous conviction," said Mr Price.

He said every penny of the £9,100 overpayment had been repaid.


31 May 2019

Pensioner claimed benefits while living abroad

A pensioner fraudulently claimed more than £25,000 in benefits while living abroad.

Terrence Sylvester, 79, admitted three counts of benefit fraud when he appeared at Hull Magistrates’ Court after returning to the UK.

Magistrates said his offending was so serious it crossed the custody threshold – but Sylvester was spared an immediate jail sentence as it would be "unjust to send him to prison" because of his age.

Between May 28, 2014, and November 5, 2017, he dishonestly claimed a total of £25,561 in disability living allowance, pension credit, and housing benefit after failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) he was living abroad.

Sylvester was sentenced to 24 weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months. He was ordered to pay £200 - made up of £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge - at £5 a week.

Court records do not state where Sylvester was living when out of the country.


30 May 2019

"Single parent" benefit fraud

A Cleland woman was caught claiming she was a single parent to claim benefits she wasn’t entitled to.

Michelle Gallacher admitted making false statements to North Lanarkshire Council on a housing benefit application between April 2016 and May 2017.

She appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to two counts of benefit fraud.

On the housing benefit application, Gallacher stated that she was a single parent living alone and that state benefits were her only source of income when in fact she was living with her husband.

Because of this she received £3200 of housing benefit she shouldn’t have claimed.

Gallacher also admitted failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions officials of a change in circumstances due to living with her husband and claiming £5300 of Income Support she wasn’t supposed to.

The offence took place between January 2015 and February 2017.

Sheriff Linda Nicolson sentenced Gallacher to 180 hours of unpaid work which must be completed within the next nine months.

This was reduced from 240 hours on account of Gallacher’s earlier guilty pleas.


28 May 2019

Pensioner admonished for £76k benefit fraud

A pensioner has been admonished for a £27,000 benefit fraud after Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told she is paying back all that money.

Christina Weir pleaded guilty to three charges of fraud.

Over a period of eight years, from September 2009 to July 2017, the 76-year-old failed to notify Scottish Borders Council that she had capital over the prescribed limit and that led to her being paid £24,052 in housing benefit she wasn’t entitled to.

Weir was also paid £1,623 in council tax benefit between September 2009 and March 2013 and a further £1,795 in pension credits between December 2012 and September 2016.

She admitted failing to tell the relevant authorities about changes to her personal circumstances affecting her benefit entitlement.

Defence lawyer Maureen Sinclair said the pension credit sum had already been repaid and Weir is repaying the rest of the money she owes at a rate of £500 per month.

She described first offender Weir as a “valued member of the community” but added that she accepted she she should have kept better records and was ashamed of the offence.

Ms Sinclair added that her client had enrolled on a Borders College course to help her keep better accounts.

She asked for an admonition, pointing out that Weir was paying the money back at a “rapid” rate and there would be no loss to the public purse by the time she finishes.


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.


23 May 2019

Council house fraudster told to pay almost £40k

A woman who narrowly avoided jail after falsely gaining a council house has been ordered to pay costs of almost £40,000.

Annet Nemah Umuzia Cox failed to disclose her status as a homeowner when applying for council housing with Dudley Council.

She pleaded guilty to housing fraud in December, when she was sentenced to six months custody, suspended for 12 months.

Dudley Council have since taken further court action, and bosses are ordering Cox to pay a confiscation order for £39,883.30 – with £34,407.50 to be paid as compensation to the council.

Cox provided a false housing application to gain access to a Dudley Council property, which the council made specific adaptations amounting to £29,439.70.

The council also paid the rent, £2,078.37, and council tax, £399.84, at the property whilst it was being adapted due to it taking some time to undertake the adaptations.

When Cox moved into the property, her owned property was then rented out privately creating an income of £5,240.

Had she declared her correct circumstances, Cox would not have been eligible for a Dudley Council tenancy.

Alan Lunt, deputy chief executive and strategic director for place, said: "Housing fraud is a very serious matter and those who are tempted to try and cheat the system should be reminded that we will investigate and pursue thoroughly all instances of wrongdoing.

"Our priority is rightly focused upon those who are most deserving and we will continue to help those who are most in need of council housing."

Failure for Cox to pay could result in imprisonment. She is no longer a council tenant.