Benefit cheats pay the price

TWO more men have been successfully prosecuted for benefit fraud following tip-offs from members of the public.

Steven Harris, of Gull Road, Guyhirn, pleaded guilty to four charges of dishonestly claiming benefits after failing to declare that he had inherited more than £70,000 from his late mother’s estate.

An investigation by Fenland District Council and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) established that he had first applied to FDC for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit in September 2009 despite having received the substantial legacy that July.

Mr Harris had also failed to report the change in his circumstances to the DWP when claiming his Jobseeker’s Allowance. The amount he was overpaid totalled £3,317.83.

He was sentenced to a 12-month Community Order with 60 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £200 costs.

Another tip-off led to the prosecution of Anthony Smith, formerly of Colletts Bridge Lane, Elm, now living in Lancashire.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly claiming more than £2,500 in Council Tax Benefit, Income Support and Incapacity Benefit while he was working full-time as a self-employed lorry driver.

He was sentenced to a 12-month Community Order with 50 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Both cases were heard at Kings Lynn Magistrates Court.

Cllr Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for benefits, said: “All benefit claimants have to tell us if their financial circumstances change. If they fail to do so and claim money they are not entitled to, we will pursue them vigorously, through the courts if necessary.”

To report suspected benefit fraud, call FDC’s fraud hotline in complete confidence on 01354-622583 or e-mail fraud@fenland.gov.uk