Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

£19.99 + £1.50 (P&P)

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  1. #1
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    Default Confused about fraud!!!

    I have recently been called into the job centre on suspicion of benefit fraud (they claimed I was living with someone, I知 not)
    During the interview I was asked about my home life, visitors/overnight guests/relationships.
    I explained I am receiving a lot of outside help from my family and my kids dad recently as my child has just been registered disabled and I知 finding it a bit difficult to cope.
    I said if I致e had more help than was expected and have done something wrong then I知 sorry and would like to know how to fix it. To which the investigator replied 土ou need to sit down with the man in question and talk about him moving back in and signing off benefits賠. that痴 the only answer I received the 3 times I asked.
    They said they had evidence of a couple of pictures of me and this man kissing (put on facebook many years ago) and they壇 watched my house for a month and had seen him coming and going, although they wouldn稚 give me any dates or times or show me all these many records they had. Even though they expected me to answer why he was there at that time.
    I am not looking for free money and if I have done something wrong I will hold my hands up and pay back anything I owe.
    What I don稚 understand is how they can question me on evidence that I was not shown and conclude my only way out is to live with a man I no longer love or want to be with.
    Can anybody help me understand what happens next? Will my claim be stopped or will they try to push me and my ex into living together? I知 so confused


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    The people who interview you are not the people who make the decision. Sounds to me like they have indicators of fraud but nothing concrete and are looking for an admission. At an IUC, they will show you evidence where they have it. Did they show you anything at all? Any documentary evidence? Did they show you the surveillance that they say they have? The photos?

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

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  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder xJTx Novitiate

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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Thanks for your reply, sorry mine are so long winded, I just want to make sure I give as much information as possible.

    They read a comment Id wrote on my ex’s facebook page that said about his "sitting on his a**e whilst I did everything* They didn’t let me see the quote or I could have explained it (as I later looked on his page and saw it was said the day before our daughters birthday) but they claimed that it was proof he lived here as he was expected to do things around the home.
    The surveillance was dates and times on a sheet of paper. It was said to have been done over a 4 week period but they didn’t tell me which 4 weeks or show/state to me any dates/times. The closest I got to an explanation was "we've seen him coming and going late evening/early morning. Suggesting he goes to/from work to your home"
    There was nothing said about photos.
    I’m starting to get really worried now as I have now received a letter telling me my payments of council tax and housing benefit have been suspended until I inform them of my change of circumstances regarding living with someone.
    I really am at a loss as to how we are going to cope once my income support, tax credits, disability living allowance, child benefit and carers allowance stop (which I assuming will happen in the near future)
    I am trying to use any money I do have now to get shopping and pay bills (or anything that will be cut off) but I’m at a loss as to what will happen in the long run.
    As I have said they advised I sign off income support and inform all other benefits that my ex has moved back in, correcting the status of the money I do have coming in, but I really don’t want him back.
    He’s happy where he is now and (up until a week ago) I was happy with my situation, I really don’t want to move backwards after finally finding my feet.



  4. #4
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    DLA, CA and CB are not affected by income from a partner so there is little to worry about in regard to those benefits. It's surprisingly easy how you can sort the issue in regard to benefits which would be affected. You write in providing evidence that the person they alledge is living with you, is not living with you. first get in touch with the council, confirm that there is no change of circumstances; there has been suspicion by DWP but your circumstances have not changed, and you have told them as much. As you are on relatively good terms with this person, ask him to provide documents which would support your case. Documents which show him living at another address:
    • Council tax bill in his name
    • Lease/mortgageicon of his home in his name
    • Utility bills sent to his address in his name
    • any other documents - DVLA docs, bank statements (with transactions blanked out if he wishes), contracts for phone or other services etc, employment contract.
    • Statements from neighbours if they know you well, and the ex himself if he was not investigated and is prepared to write a statement
    • If any professionals were involved who knew you were not a couple - Dr's, Solicitors, public office employee of management level, teachers etc, they could also write statements in support of your case
    • Evidence of child support payments to show he was maintaining the children as a non resident parent
    All of these documents should sufficiently demonstrate that he maintains his own home and does not live with you. If he doesn't want you to see these documents, he can send them in himself, with a covering letter which makes it clear what they relate to. The letter should include things which identify you as the person being investigated so that they can match it with your case. Best would be your National Insurance number but they can also match it to your name, address and date of birth.

    They can only suspend your benefit if the question giving rise to the suspension is supported by clear, genuine evidence. As a single parent with children, they must also seriously consider whether suspension of payments would place you in hardship or adversely affect your children.

    There is more on suspension here

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

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  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder xJTx Novitiate

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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Thanks so much, that’s really helpful.

    The stupid thing is that although the jobcentre has notified the local council of the investigation (causing them to suspend my claim) The jobcentre hasn’t (as yet) suspended my IS.

    I'll get onto the council Monday morning and hopefully get it sorted ASAP.
    Thanks again for all your help.


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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Have you got your housing benefit/council tax benefit decision notice? On it, it should give a breakdown of the award. If you get it passported/linked (you get it because you get income support) they should reinstate while you are still in receipt of income support.

    Tell them you have had an interview, it's suspicion but nothing more, you are still receiving IS, there has been no alteration to your circumstances, and that you would like them to reinstate the benefits.

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

    Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.
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  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder xJTx Novitiate

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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Thanks again, I don’t have the notice but will contact them and enquire.
    I have contacted the bank and checked dates all benefits were made.
    According to the letter the council sent HA and CTB were both stopped on the 30th Sept (my IUC was on 29th Sept) yet I was still paid IS on 1st Oct.
    I have all the shown on a bank statement so will show the council and hopefully get it all sorted.
    I’ve not received any letters from the council asking me to attend any form of IUC with them so have to assume they have stopped HB and CTB due to the IUC I had with the jobcentre.
    Hopefully they will give me any answers either way and settle this before I end up oweing them hundreds of pounds in arrears.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Hi again, I have finally managed to talk to the right person at the council today (every time I contacted them I was informed it was the fraud investigators I needed not the benefits section)
    They have told me they have looked on file and are unable to reinstate my benefits until my IS has been reinstated (I hadn’t even been made aware that it had been stopped)
    What do I do now? I have some money to tide me over.... my sons back payment of DLA (which I was hoping to save to take him on holidayicon) but it is only 」400 and with my rent and council tax being nearly 」100 a week I know by the end of the month I’m going to be behind on everything.
    Any advice on what I can do next would be fantastic.
    I have spoken to my ex and he hasn’t any paper work to help (as he was staying at different family members homes) but has mail going to his mothers address, my mothers address and my address.
    He has recently found a room to rent local to me which all his bills will be going to, but I have now been accused of arranging this as we'd been caught (during the IUC, as I said I have heard nothing since then)
    I pay everything in this house, the rent and council tax were covered by benefits, but water was paid out of my IS, the gas, electric and TV licence are in my name but they are still convinced he lives here.
    I’m so worried, I have a work focused interview on Thursday, but am embarrassed about going knowing I'll be sitting there with them thinking I’m a criminal.
    Please help, many thanks.



  9. #9
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    Default 2nd interview... please help!!

    Hi, I知 hoping someone can help.
    I had an IUC in Sept as they thought my husband, who I split from in 2006 and I were living together.
    I explained that he'd been spending more time at my home recently due to my son being diagnosed with autism and would stay on Friday and Saturday nights to spend time with the kids (giving me a break) as he didn稚 have anywhere to take the children to (he was, at the time NFA)
    It was then the turn of my ex to go in and we were both told a 2nd interview may be required.
    I was totally straight with every question and hoped they would see I was just in need of extra help with my son, nothing more.
    I didn稚 hear anything for 10 weeks after the interview, my income support went unchanged, although my HB and CTB were both suspended.
    I have recently been invited to attend a 2nd interview (which Id expected) What痴 confusing is why my ex hasn稚 been. Is this a good sign or am I likely to walk in there to find I知 lined up to be prosecuted, regardless of being innocent and telling them everything in detail?
    Can someone please help, I知 so worried and dreading Tuesday.



  10. #10
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    A second IUC is normally arranged at the direction of either the fraud manager or the decision maker, where they feel more clarification is required before a decision can be made, or where further evidence has come to light that they need to ask you about. You can't be prosecuted as yet because no decision on fraud has been made, let alone the case having been considered by departmental solicitors.

    I would however advise you to take legal representation with you this time, if you are able to. It sounds to me that are they are out for an admission, especially as the "evidence" they have so far is sketchy and being taken out of context. Either that, or there is more evidence they want to question you about.

    Are there no people who would write statements in support of the fact that you were not a couple for the period in question?

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

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  11. #11
    Basic Account Holder xJTx Novitiate

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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Hi,
    I’ve now been for my 2nd interview and also had an interview at the local council (regarding HB and CTB)
    I have not received a decision as such (in writing) but have spoken to the interviewing officer from the DWP who has informed me a decision notice is on its way to me and I have been found guilty of fraud during the 2 years that my ex was of NFA.
    Could anyone tell me what happens next? I did ask at the council when I had my interview and she said as I’d been found guilty for a 2 year period that the amount I received in overpaymenticon would be too high to be expected to pay it back and I would now be expected to go to court for them to make a decision on what happens next.
    Could someone please give me an honest answer (no matter how bad) so I can prepare myself (and arrange childcare for my children) Am I going to prison for this??
    Please help, I’m beyond terrified.
    Many thanks


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Going on what I have read, the overpaymenticon will be high enough to trigger a prosecution for fraud.

    I believe very few cases a person ends up in prison, it does depend on how high the overpayments were.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    If the overpaymenticon is over 」2,000 they do tend to prosecute, there are a few threads in here that have got to that stage now. Worth a read.


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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    You haven't been found guilty of fraud, they are prosecuting you for fraud. That doesn't mean you are guilty. Only a court will decide that. A friend of mine is going through court at the moment, he is pleading not guilty. His over payment has dropped from 10k to 1k now since they took into account certain things, but he wasn't guilty, & he wont plead guilty!
    I suggest you find a benefit solicitor, not a solicitor that just gives general advice in it, but a solicitor that specialises in it.
    You'll probably get legal aid. You need to be strong now & fight this.
    x
    Sorry forgot to add, your very very unlikely to go to prison so stop thinking about that!

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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    What they are saying is that they have decided that you committed fraud. A court has not yet decided and you can still plead "not guilty" if or when you are summonsed to court. You have a right of appeal against the decision that the fraud investigation service have reached. As you were not living with your husband, I would strongly encourage you to appeal. You may be able to get help with an appeal via Welfare Rights or CAB - but make sure you appeal within the time limit set of one month from the date of the decision.

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

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  16. #16
    Basic Account Holder xJTx Novitiate

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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Thanks for all your help everyone, honestly I could not have got through without everyone’s replies.
    I’m going to speak to a solicitor ASAP and hopefully find out more about how much this overpaymenticon is too (I need to know what I’m dealing with)
    I have to know what’s going on, I want to believe I'll be ok, but cant fight the thought I may end up in prison.
    I’m terrified. I’ve looked at many other cases and keep coming across people being made examples of.
    Does anyone know what I should expect when I go to court (I’ve given up on believing it could be an if) Will it be like you see on TV, standing in a dock, being questioned whilst a jury watch my every move?
    Also could anyone tell me if this will end up in the papers (I’m thinking the local news, not implying I’m important enough to be interesting to many folk)
    I just worry how this could affect my kids.
    I know my biggest fear should be, and is, not ending up in prison, but I also would like to know how to protect my kids from the backlash of this all.
    So far they know nothing (apart from my eldest telling my mum I never smile anymore, but we pass that off as me being tired as my youngest is a poor sleeper) but I don’t know how I could stop her knowing if I hit the papers.
    Oh god, this is all such a mess, I just want to run away.
    Any help and advice would be gratefully received.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Real courts are very seldom the dramatised versions you see on TV. There may not be a jury - it depends what type of court your case is heard in. A defendant is not required to testify but you may do so if you wish or if your counsel feels that it is in your best interests to.

    Prison is always a last resort for sentencing these days - and, as you are innocent I would hope the court would find you as such. A decision made by DWP is based in civil law where the standard of proof is low - "on the balance of probability". They will refer the case to the prosecution division who will decide whether to bring the case to criminal court. They will only do so if they believe they have a reasonable prospect of success in securing a prosecution, and it is in the public interesticon to do so. Believing that they have a chance of success and actually succeeding are two different things though. In criminal proceedings, the standard of proof is much higher than a balance of probability - the standard of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt". If there is any reasonable doubt in the mind of the magistrate or jury (depending on whether it is a magistrate or crown court) then they must not convict. The burden of proof is also on the prosecution. It is up to them to prove that you commited fraud, not on you to prove that you did not.

    My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by xJTx View Post
    Thanks for all your help everyone, honestly I could not have got through without everyone’s replies.
    I’m going to speak to a solicitor ASAP and hopefully find out more about how much this overpaymenticon is too (I need to know what I’m dealing with)
    I have to know what’s going on, I want to believe I'll be ok, but cant fight the thought I may end up in prison.
    I’m terrified. I’ve looked at many other cases and keep coming across people being made examples of.
    Does anyone know what I should expect when I go to court (I’ve given up on believing it could be an if) Will it be like you see on TV, standing in a dock, being questioned whilst a jury watch my every move?
    Also could anyone tell me if this will end up in the papers (I’m thinking the local news, not implying I’m important enough to be interesting to many folk)
    I just worry how this could affect my kids.
    I know my biggest fear should be, and is, not ending up in prison, but I also would like to know how to protect my kids from the backlash of this all.
    So far they know nothing (apart from my eldest telling my mum I never smile anymore, but we pass that off as me being tired as my youngest is a poor sleeper) but I don’t know how I could stop her knowing if I hit the papers.
    Oh god, this is all such a mess, I just want to run away.
    Any help and advice would be gratefully received.
    I am aware of a case in 1988 where a guy pleaded guilty on advice from his solicitor, but wasn't guilty. He was told that the risk of being found guilty in Crown Court would be worse for him than pleading guilty but still innocent????
    The amount involved was 」12,000 over an 18 month period. Council Tax Benefit, Supplementary Benefit and Unemployment Benefit combined.

    He was sent to prison for 12 months. He had never been in trouble in his life.
    When he came out he appealed against the 」12,000 overpaymenticon and went to the Commissioners. He won there as he proved that he had NOT made any profit in a little business he was trying to start off and only worked for a couple of hours a week for the first 2 years. The evidence on his side was clear cut - the Inland Revenue had also carried out an investigation and it showed that he had NO income.

    So he didn't have to repay any of the 」12,000, but still went to prison and was in there for 9 months.

    On the day of the trial, it was reported on the ITV News, the BBC News and all of the local and most of the national papers.

    Ironically, the law was changed when Income Support replaced Supplementary Benefit. He would not have been prosecuted today as you are allowed to deduct expenses from self employed income and only need to disclose the net figure. Previously, they assessed you on the gross income even if the expenses incurred came to more than it !!

    As an example if your gross income was 」500 they would have reduced your benefit by this figure. They wouldn't have taken into account that it cost 」490 in expenses and stock to earn it. Their argument was that the person would be daft to work in a business that only earned 」10 for every 」500 of sales.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    Hi all, just a quick update.
    I have now (finally) received a letter from the job centre saying that they have found I was overpaidicon for a (near) 4 week period (just before my first IUC) and I owe them just short of 」200.
    I called the number that was on the letter to enquire into how they'd come to this
    decision and was told the decision was being dealt with in 2 half’s.... but they don’t know why (I’ve had a think and nothing at all happened in those last 3 weeks to make it any more/less important than the 1st 2 years)
    They said the decision I had received had been made in Nov 2010 (2 months before my 2nd interview) but the rest of the time was still pending decision.
    Do I go ahead and appeal this decision now or do I wait until my next decision comes through the door (remembering the last one took 5 months to be posted)
    I’m more worried than ever. I really cant take anymore. I’ve given up even trying to eat or sleep, I just sit on here all night reading anything I can find that sounds similar to my case.
    I have no idea what to do, I used to work in a prison and the thought of being left to rot in one scares the hell out of me.
    My parents are offering to re-mortgage their house in order to pay back all 2 years of money, its affecting my whole family.
    Please someone help me.



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    Default Re: Confused about fraud!!!

    definitely appeal now, as it can take months for these things to get to tribunal



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