Many people underestimate the severity of a benefit fraud investigation, most are ill prepared for an interview under caution and fewer still appreciate the complexities of the law surrounding benefit fraud. In this guide I provide a complete breakdown of the entire process along with common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Sentences in England and Wales relating to benefit fraud are determined based upon guidelines. Such guidelines allow judges and magistrates to decide sentences that are consistent and proportionate to the seriousness and type of offence committed. Use this handy online calculator to estimate sentences guidelines.
There are lots of references on the internet to handling an interview under caution. I have included the above as an example. However, my benefit fraud manual offers a level of first-hand advice that will ensure that you the best opportunity to present yourself correctly through every stage of the interview. What is particularly important is that you do not make the mistakes that I made.
There is some really useful information contained at the benefit fraud BlogSpot. The good thing about this site is that it is regularly maintained by the author. In addition there is an archive that lists numerous cases that have gone to trial along with the sentences received.
If you thought that the DWP and your Local Authority have the time and resources to pick potential benefit cheats at random then you may be surprised to learn that the majority of cases that get investigated come by way of a tipoff.
The first case highlights that of a Nottinghamshire man who claimed Jobseekers Allowance as well as Council Tax benefit whilst he was in full-time employment. Whilst the fine was relatively small the full amount of the overpayment would have had to be paid back to the Department for Work and Pensions. Full story
If you thought that benefit fraud was confined to the hard-up single parent or limited to the realms of the lower classes then you may be surprised to learn that people from every walk of life succumb to the temptation of ‘easy money’ from the state:
One of the hardest benefit crimes to pull off involves disabilities. This is because faking a disability is almost as restrictive as having the disability. Phil Carter wasn’t so careful and as a result was caught on camera: Link. In addition, Silvia Wootton was possibly a tad complacent whilst claiming Disability Living Allowance whilst running dog training classes.
Is it really that bad to earn a little bit of cash on the side? Well it can be, particularly, if it means claiming £88,000 in benefits that you are not entitled to as Mark Hawthorn discovered.
Benefit payments are determined as being the minimum level a claimant needs to survive on. However, a small amount over a long period of time can amount to a significant total:Thomas Jones - Swansea Crown Court.
Whilst some people who commit benefit fraud can handle a relatively small fine or a community order, most will agree that the true pain comes from paying the overpayment back. Link.