Believe it or not I have only just realised that I have commited benefit fraud a number of times over the previous 6 or 7 years and although there has been no evidence of an investigation (have not received correspondance) I would still like to return the money I owe in case there is an investigation. This will likely be a long story so apologies in advance.
I was signed off work legitimately with a "forever doctor note?" based on what I presume was a psychiatrist confirmation about 10 years ago. I think the official condition was drug induced psychosis where I suffered anxiety attacks, panic attacks, paranoia, depression brought on by the use of drugs. Aged 20 I quit all drugs (aside from a small number of relapses) and although I've been informed that this condition will stay with me for the rest of my life (in the form of less frequent "episodes") things have been getting gradually more bearable over the past decade.
The reason I think things have been getting better, and ironically enough also the reason for the overpayments, are because on occasions I have travelled abroad. At no point since I've been on whatever benefits I've been on was I aware that I couldn't go abroad. I have never worked since being signed off sick or commited any other offence it is just the going abroad that I have been overpayed for.
I have finally found what I want to do in life which is to become an Actuary. Over the past few years I have studied and passed various exams to work my way toward doing an Actuarial Science degree as soon as possible. It has been extremely difficult because I couldn't afford to attend any official teaching institutions meaning I have had to teach myself. I have successfully completed a full maths a-level as well as the first of a number of official actuarial exams. However...good qualifications aren't enough...to become an Actuary your integrity needs to be beyond reproach. No criminal record or anything and I am absolutely terrified now that everything I have worked so hard for over the past few years and all the dreams I've had of maybe, finally becoming a contributing member to society could be stripped away from me because of a stupid mistake.
Whether or not there has been an investigation means nothing to me now because I MUST pay back this money and admit what I've done. I have done some research online and will willingly admit my guilt even though it wasn't intentional and pay back the money with any excess fees as long as I don't get prosecuted because a criminal record destroys my life.
I don't know much about the benefits I have been on or am currently on because they're always changing the names and I've never paid much attention to my benefit issues but I can give a pretty good estimate of how much overpayment there has been and guess around £10,500. I've never travelled on a work visa, nor have I worked "under the table" it has only been either visa exempt or visitor visa status for all cases.
I have covered any additional monetary issues over the years with online poker and currently have about £2,000 in my bankroll which I will immediately pay to them but other than that I have literally nothing. My bank records will prove the poker as an income and that I haven't used benefit money to fund a gambling habit, it is also my only bank/savings account which will prove no other income or assets. I have already spoken to a friend about potentially starting work as a dishwasher when I return and can start to pay off the money with that and obviously I will immediately stop my benefits once employment is gained.
I have no idea now what to do now. Who do I contact? Who do I speak to? Are they going to accept this? Am I going to court or even worse prison if I admit this? I'm in a bit of a state at the moment and any advice would be greatly appreciated.