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Benefit Fraud Weekly Review - 20 October 2014 - 24 October 2014

Suspended custodial sentence for three benefit fraudsters

At Belfast Crown Court, a 57 year old Belfast woman appeared for fraudulently receiving over £25,000 in Income Support and Housing Benefit while having undeclared capital.  The fraud had occurred when the woman was given a house as a gift from her father but continued to claim means tested benefits.
Her defence said that the house was a gift and she had not intended to make any money from it. The Judge stated that it was a substantial amount of money but this can be built up over a period when in receipt of benefit, he took into consideration her age, no previous convictions and her guilty plea.  She was sentenced to a nine month custodial sentence for each offence to run concurrently suspended for one year.
A 30 year old Fermanagh man appeared at Enniskillen Magistrate’s Court charged with fraudulently claiming £2,072.23 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.  He failed to notify the Department that he was living with a partner. His defence highlighted that the customer had debts and had no income other than his partner’s wages and Carer’s Allowance, had entered a guilty plea and the money had not been used for luxuries.  The Judge acknowledged the customer’s guilty plea but stated he took a very dim view of benefit fraud.  He was sentenced to a four month custodial sentence suspended for 18 months.
A 37 year old woman from Rathfriland was charged in Newry Court with fraudulently claiming £38,437.61. The customer had received Income Support and Housing Benefit but failed to declare that she had a partner living with her. The judge imposed a nine month custodial sentence, suspended for three years.
Three people from Belfast appeared at Belfast Magistrate’s Court this week charged with claiming means tested benefits whilst working and had failed to notify the Department.
The first person was a 48 year old man who had fraudulently received £8,885.98 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.  He received a sentence of 160 hours community service and £104 court costs.
Another man aged 30 was sentenced to 180 hours community service and £46 court costs. He had received £15,165.84 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.
The last person to appear was a 56 year old woman who had fraudulently received £15,334.82 in Income Support and Housing Benefit and was sentenced to 180 hours community service and £40 court costs.
At Lisburn Magistrate’s Court, two customers from Dunmurry appeared for claiming benefits and working.
A woman aged 26 years claimed £17,335.53 in Income Support and Housing Benefit was sentenced to a conditional discharge of 18 months and £74 court costs.
The second customer was a 24 year old man who was given a £250 fine, £15 defendant’s levy and £25 court costs for fraudulently claiming £213.80 in Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Newtownards Magistrate’s Court also had two customers appear for working and claiming benefits illegally.
A Bangor man aged 48 was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge with £28 court costs. He had claimed £3,470.87 illegally in Jobseeker’s Allowance.
The second customer was a 32 year old woman from Newtownards. She had claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Carer’s Allowance totalling £3,400.36 fraudulently.  She was sentenced to 50 hours community service on each of six charges to run concurrently along with £10 court costs.
At Dungannon Crown Court, a 29 year old woman from the Omagh area appeared for having capital in excess of the statutory limit while in receipt of means tested benefits. She claimed Income Support and Housing Benefit wrongfully receiving £24,685.82. The Court sentenced her to a 12 month probation order and 120 hours community service to run concurrently.
A Kilkeel woman aged 49 appeared at Newry Magistrate’s Court for having undeclared capital while wrongly claiming Income Support and rates relief totalling £9,967.13.  She was sentenced to a fine totalling £300, £50 defendant’s levy and £49 court costs.
At Antrim Magistrate’s Court a 28 year old Antrim woman was sentenced to fine totalling £75 along with £52 courts costs with 26 weeks to pay. She claimed Income Support and Housing Benefit whilst working; a fact she failed to disclose to the Department.  She had wrongly received £2,495.87 in benefits which must be repaid to the Department.
A 57 year old Londonderry woman was sentenced to 100 hours community service and £43 court costs at Londonderry Magistrate’s Court. She had been working and claimed £7,325.12 in Jobseeker’s Allowance she should not have received.
An finally this week, at Belfast Crown Court a 66 year old man was given a 10 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years. The man had fraudulently claimed £18,891.83 in Incapacity Benefit while failing to declare that he was working. The money wrongly received must also be repaid to the Department.
This brings the total number of convictions since 1 April 2014 to 189.
If you wish to report benefit fraud please refer to the Benefit Fraud Hotline external link page.
If you wish to read about other cases please refer to: News Releases – Department for Social Development external link