Bromley Council has successfully prosecuted two benefit claimants for fraud – in separate cases brought to the attention of the council by a tip-off and information received from HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) data matching exercise.
In the first case, an investigation was launched into benefit claims made by 62-year-old Jennifer Jackson of Chancery Lane in Beckenham, Kent after a tip off.
The court heard that Jackson defrauded Bromley Council out of housing and council tax benefits totalling £30,141 between October 2010 and April 2015.
She also defrauded the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of £1,421, by falsely claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) between September 2010 and February 2011.
An anonymous caller had contacted the council to allege that Jackson had been claiming benefit while working. A subsequent investigation showed that Jackson had failed to declare that she had been working for a number of years.
At Bromley Magistrates’ Court, Jackson pleaded guilty to three charges of benefit fraud and on 1 September 2015, Bromley Magistrates Court sentenced her to 26 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months.
She was also ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid community service, pay £750 in costs – and was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80.
As well as Jackson now having a criminal record, Bromley Council said it would seek to recover the benefit overpayment claimed by her.
In the second case, 32-year-old Richard Sullivan of Portland Road in Bromley, Kent, pleaded guilty to defrauding Bromley Council out of housing benefit totalling £8,420 during the period March 2013 to December 2014.
An investigation was launched as a result of information received from the HMRC’s Real Time Information (RTI) data matching exercise.
Benefit fraud officers found that Sullivan had failed to notify the council’s benefits section that he had changed his employer – and that his salary had increased.
It was found that in March 2013, there was also a failure to declare that his landlord was his father and he had no liability to pay the £1,400 per month in rent stated in the Tenancy Agreement.
It was also found that Sullivan’s wife had received a six-figure inheritance in 2014, which had not been declared.
Sullivan pleaded guilty to four charges of benefit fraud and last month was sentenced at Bromley Magistrates’ Court to a total of 100 hours of unpaid work, a 12-week monitored curfew between 8pm and 7am – and was ordered to pay £575 in costs. A £60 Victim Surcharge was also imposed.
The council said that the benefit overpayment would be recovered from Sullivan by way of a Compensation Order backed by an Attachment of Earnings Order imposed by the Court.
Chairman of Bromley’s Audit Committee, Councillor Neil Reddin, said:
“Even though the responsibility for housing benefit fraud now rests with the DWP, Bromley Council is still determined to conclude cases that fell under its jurisdiction before the transfer, as evidenced by the successful prosecutions of these two cheats.
“We welcome the sentences imposed – and hope it sends out a clear message to other fraudsters.
“Bromley Council does not tolerate any fraud – and will always protect public funds meant for the needy of this borough.”
Bromley Council has now prosecuted a total of 420 benefit claimants since the council and the Royal Borough of Greenwich began working in partnership to track, trace and prosecute benefit fraudsters.
Duncan Lewis Benefit Fraud Lawyers
Duncan Lewis benefit fraud lawyers can advise at any stage of a charge involving benefit fraud – and can attend interviews with DWP, local authorities and the police in relation to fraud charges relating to:
• Bedroom Tax fraud
• Blue Badge fraud
• Child Tax Credits
• Disability Living Allowance
• Employment Support Allowance
• Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Housing Benefit
• Housing fraud
• Income Support
• Pension Credits
• Universal Credit
• Working Tax Credit.
For expert legal advice on all benefit fraud charges, call Duncan Lewis benefit fraud lawyers on 020 7923 4020.
For 24/7 help at a police station, call the Duncan Lewis Emergency Hotline on 020 7275 2036.