Housing benefit fraud sentence

Kevin Snow24th July 2013

A resident convicted of housing benefit fraud will have to repay over £15,000 benefits fraudulently obtained and was given a £600 financial penalty at St Albans Magistrates Court on Monday 22 July 2013, after a successful prosecution was brought by Three Rivers District Council.

Mrs Linda Watts, of Harefield Road, Rickmansworth, obtained Housing and Council Tax Benefit whilst owning a 2nd property that she rented out and whilst failing to disclose she had married. The offences spanned from 11 April 2011 to 20 August 2012

Mrs Watts submitted an early guilty plea on 1 July 2013 at Watford Magistrates Court for the £10,044.22 Housing Benefit and the £5,306.73 Council Tax Benefit she obtained under false pretences.

Mrs Watts also has to pay £250 towards the prosecution's legal costs on top of repaying the full amount of Benefit fraudulently obtained.

To report a fraud in confidence, please contact the Council’s freephone fraud hotline 0800 458 9200 or write to the Council’s fraud section at: Three Rivers House, Northway, Rickmansworth, WD3 1RL.

Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and, if we think someone is fraudulently claiming benefit, we will investigate that person's circumstances. In certain situations, for example where we suspect third party collusion, we may also investigate the landlord and/or the employers.

If we have evidence that someone is committing benefit fraud we may prosecute the offender or, as an alternative to prosecution, apply a formal caution or a financial penalty.

Remember, if you are receiving benefit yourself it is your responsibility to notify the council immediately of any change in your circumstances that may affect your entitlement to benefit. You cannot assume that other organisations, like the Department for Work and Pensions, will notify us on your behalf.


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