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  1. I am not sure if this is the place to post this and if its not plz tell me with the right section and I will delete it and repost in that section. Okay so like any good AA meeting should start, hi I'm martin and I'm accused of benefit fraud. The story; I was sent to intraining (DWP work proggrame) I realised quickly that they pigeonhole people into either care, customer service, retail, or deliveries, but I see myself as a budding graphic designer and mobile app developer I expressed this opinion and it turned out there was someone there who knew how to help me and told me the best thing I could do was to build a portfolio so of course that is what I've done making logos and designs for some businesses, one my uncle and one my friends, I haven't been paid for the work nor did they request the work to be done but I've yesterday received a text telling me I have a compliance interview today, no letter although they assure me it was sent and I should speak to my local post office, regardless I attended this interview today and they say that somebody has anonymously told them I have been working whilst receiving benefits, so thinking it could only be related to that, I start telling them everything, the investigator tells me that I have still provided a service and therefore have broken the law, at this point I terminated the interview feeling that the interviewer hadn't grasped the full situation and was more intent on pinning something on me than finding the full information, so I called citizens advice (who are next to useless nowwadays) and have just called a solicitor to mount a 'benefits defence?' But I saw some great advice here and I was hoping someone may be able to point me in the right direction as to how to look at my case from there eyes, what to expect and how best to represent myself, any all advice appreciated many thanks
  2. Hi there, I hope you can help me. I am a single mum and have been since my son was 3 months old (he is now 2 years old). I claim Income Support (which is only £46 a week now as they are stopping money from it for debts), Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit as well as Housing Allowance and Council Tax benefits. On saturday I had a letter through saying I am being investigated for alleged benefit fraud and have to attend an interview under caution on June 3rd. It doesn't say what I have been accused of exactly and I am miffed. I do not know. I have thought of 3 possible reasons but I didn't think they would be benefit fraud and still don't so I don't know... They are as follows. My son's father is not allowed near us, there is a court order preventing him accessing his child (for bloody good reason!) but he does pay money into to my bank by direct transfer every week or two. He is well off and it is usually around 100 a week (when he sends it, sometimes he sends nothing for 6 weeks) but I read somewhere that maintenance money from a parent does not affect a claim for IS. I probably should have told them but I was worried they would think I was letting the dad see my child and call social services (they're the ones who obtained the court order and it took a lot to convince them I have nothing to do with the ex. Which I don't). Could the money he sends mean I have been committing fraud and not even known it??? 2) I had a girlfriend for around 10 weeks last year. She had trouble with her home situation and I let her stay with me for just over a week while she got herself sorted. She was only staying over, we weren't living together.. It was only a week.. Could it be that? Or 3) My mum is a cleaner at a nursery. She works one hour an evening there. On fridays for the last 3 weeks I have done her one hour shift (for free) while she baby sits my son as she then has him over night and it gives me a break. I didn't get paid for it I just did it so she could babysit and I got a restful sleep. It amounts to 3 hours in total and even the lady who works with my mum will say I didn't get paid and just helped her hoover and get the place tidy. Could it be that? I only did it for the first time 3 weeks ago. As far as I know I haven't broken the law. I possibly should have told them about the money from my ex but it says online that it doesn't affect a claim for IS so I didn't think it would matter... Any advice?? I don't think I have time to find a solicitor as I have no childcare and it's not going to be easy sitting in a solicitors office explaining while stopping my toddler wrecking the place..
  3. Hi me and my partner both claim Jobseekers over the summer while we are in between college courses. Recently the DWP have discovered my boyfriend's ISA that he failed to declare.They are investigating his ISA back to 2009 when he first claimed JSA as a single claimant and will also find that he had stocks and shares meaning his overall capital came to £17,000 (£16,000 is the cut off entitlement for JSA).He only had £17,000 in his bank account for a few days as he bought a new laptop, driving lessons and paid off lawyer fees off it, so he went back down to £15,000. He was on JSA for around 2 yrs. He failed to inform the DWP that he received this money from his mum's death that was put into his ISA and also failed to inform them about the ISA when he applied as a joint claim with me this year and last year. I am the main claimant this year and I knew nothing about his ISA until now when the DWP asked me in to discuss it. We apply for this benefit every year for about 3 months while we wait for college to start back up. He has £5,000 roughly left and is willing to pay off any overpayments to avoid going to court. He told me he didn't know he had to declare it because the first time he did ever apply for JSA, it was all above board and he never had the money at that point. He was 18 then and his dad told him it would be fine not to mention it. I am in no doubt that his stocks and shares will show up now he has gave the DWP permission to get his ISA account. And I'm assuming he'll be asked to go to an interview under caution, as will I probably since I am the main claimant. If it did go to court, would it be likely he went to prison? He has been in trouble before. He was charged with GBH a few years ago against his dad but was let off with probation and community service after the judge agreed his dad provoked him. He also got let off of probation 6 months early due to good behaviour. He's now a student at college and progressing well there. He fully admits that though he never realised it and wasn't intentional, he probably has comitted fraud and wants to repay whatever he owes. He can pay £5000 instantly from his ISA and if it comes to any more, he would be willing to pay it up weekly or monthly. We live in Scotland and we are both students. I am worried sick. All I can think is either we are both gonna go to jail or he is.
  4. Hi - my first post here but saddened to read through the threads. I have been charged with benefit fraud despite having mental health issues from PTSD and all the ensuing problems. Heres the thing - the DWP appeared at the door with the police last August and stormed my bedroom even though my Mother told them it would give me panic attacks then the DWP woman proceeded to ransack the room while the police were downstairs with me which I have been told contravenes PACE. I wrote a letter to the office manager and to Lord Fraud, sorry, Freud and was of course blown off Hillsborough style. During interview at police station same DWP woman also accused me of things that could not possibly be true such as my son was never in this country, knowing it would set off a panic attack. Are there human rights? My question is - what recourse do I now have to at least enforce my rights. They think dealing with mentally vulnerable people they can just blast all over us as wr are too weak and I am wanting to show otherwise.
  5. Cut a long story short I had an interview under caution as I was being accused of claiming benefits I was not entitled to namely Council Tax. I was off work for 6 months and on ESA benefits & council tax, but went back to work on a part-time restricted hours basis. DWP said I was entitled to the benefits as my hours were low - but I stopped claiming ESA. I was then made unfairly redundant and received no pay from my employer for 5 months and claimed JSA as I was unemployed. I told the Council Fraud squad this, and they accepted it was not fraud, but wanted all the money back + 30% which I paid in instalments. But they included the 5 month JSA period, They never supplied me a breakdown of how they arrived at the figure which was a whopping £2,350.00 - when I questioned this figure and found they had overcharged me by £234.00 + the £70 for the 30% overcharge they said: " You were working as a teacher and claiming JSA and STARRING IN A FILM!!!' - What the hell? When I asked them where they got this info from I got no response, I kept writing to them, they sent me a letter 3 months later saying" "You have taken too long to query this and we will not reinvestigate" Followed by "You have 14 days to pay in full or a summons will be sent and you will have to pay an extra £100 + a WHOLE YEAR'S COUNCIL TAX UP FRONT' in a magistrates' court DO I HAVE A CASE IN COURT? I'm very good at maths - and they actually owe me £70 due to the fine being disproportionate. If it goes to court surely they have to evidence their accusation yes? If anyone has any good advice - I would appreciate it!
  6. I have recently been a subject of a fraud investigation relating to a housing benefit claim for a former lodging. The landlord and his then partner were also investigated (one of them having jointly signed, with myself, a lodging agreement that falsely stated a higher rent than had been agreed, which was used to support the similarly exaggerated benefit claim). Several weeks ago, I was subjected to an interview under caution. I had already volunteered all of the information about the offence, before the council were even aware that one had taken place, and the interview was really just to reaffirm what I had already told them, for the benefit of a tape. Because I had admitted everything, and indue come forward of my own accord, I was given a formal caution. The investigation continued for several weeks after - presumably then focussing on the two other parties; I know that they were interviewed some time after me - and has now been completed. I need to make a DPA request for the case file, and am wondering if the DPA has any provisions that would allow me to see the entire file unedited - i.e. to include whatever information is held about the other two parties in connection to the same offence, given that I have a direct interest in knowing, for example, whether they received any penalties themselves (considering that the nature of the offence is such that I can't have committed it without one or both of them).
  7. Hi i am posting this on behalf of a friend of mine. Someone has reported her for working whilst on benefits. She recieved a letter and her benefits have been stopped while they investigate this. She phoned them up as she has not been working at all. She is a full time career for her autistic grandson. They wont provide her with any information as to what is happening or when this will be sorted. Is this normal? I was wondering if she sent a SAR request to the council/benefits agency do they have to abide by it? Who would she send it to we are in the gravesham area? She has also been told that she has to pay bedroom tax despite her family moving out and her asking repeatedly to be moved from a 4 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom. The council have done nothing to assist her with this. Can someone give me some advice on her next steps to take. Thanx Lx
  8. Hi, please bear with me I am new to this forum. I hope I am posting in the correct place. I've been charged with "failure to promptly notify the DWP in the prescribed manner of a change of circumstances which you knew would affect your entitlement to Carer's Allowance, namely that you were earning in excess of theh permitte amount Contrary to section 112(1A) and (2) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (SS92042). This Charge letter came to me in early Jan 2013. I had attended an Interview Under Caution in February 2012, after I had received a letter from the DWP to attend. So, almost a year in between. Long story short, in March of 2009 my disabled daughter had surgery that required me to take unpaid Parental Leave to be in hospital with her (3 weeks) and care for her afterward (recovery, pain management, learn to walk again, loads of physio). I applied for Carer's Allowance to help out for the few months with full intention of going back to work, and informing DWP. On my application form, in the back, I explicitly state in my own handwriting that "I do not yet know how long I will need to care for {daughter's name} at home, and I will contact the DWP Carer's Allowance to discontinue when I go back to work, as I have done in the past." [the past referring to an instance in 2007 when I returned to work after receiving CA and informed the DWP by letter wiithout incident]. Also, on my letter to DWP I state that "she will be at home under my care for a period of 2-3 months...." and asking for CA to be reinstated. On April 6, 2009 I started a new job (since my old one had asked me if I could extend my Parental Leave because the company was struggling). On that very same day I popped into the post a letter to DWP saying simply that my circumstances had changed and to please discontinue my CA. No reply came from the DWP, and I hadn't expected one since I never got one when I cancelled the first time in 2007. So, I never questioned it and carried on with my life. Then in Jan/Feb 2012 I receive a letter out of the blue from the DWP about possible benefits fraud and the Interview Under Caution. Unbeknownst to me, I had been receiving CA all that time! The Interviewers stared at me in disbelief, saying how could I not realise about the payments. I explained that my husband and I both make a very good wage, when working our full time jobs, and that we don't live or rely on benefits in any way. So the small amout of £50 coming into the bank account was not noticed. Furthermore, we only do online banking. We do not receive monthly statements, nor do we receive notification if a payment is received. The online statements are full of outgoings and someone would have to scroll back many pages to come to an 'incoming' payment. Something which I just simply never did. There was never any need to. Now, when the overpayments allegedly started, I was still caring for my post-op daughter, but had also started a new full time job. It was a full-on period of time for me, constantly on the go. The last thing I was doing was checking the bank account. I didn't need to. My husband and I both receive paper payslips when we get paid, therefore I don't need to check the account. Everything else is 'outgoing' and as we live within our means, there simply wasn't any reason to keep an eye on the statements. 2009 was full of teaching my daughter how to walk again, loads of physio, and managing my 3 children and full time job. I am the 'family business manager' for our family, so I am the one applying for things like Carer's Allowance and also doing the banking, etc. in addition to caring for our children. I'm a busy lady but I like it that way! By end of 2009 it was clear my daughters situation was not improving. In early 2010 I was already researching another surgical operation and in the spring of 2010 she was accepted for spinal surgery in America (because the surgery was not offered in UK or Europe at the time). Therefore, 2010 was full of this activity.....and not checking the bank statements. So, basically, (and I really am trying to keep this short) approx. 3 years went by and we were receiving CA without realising it. The Interviewers seem to think it impossible that we would have missed this. Perhaps I confused the CA payments with the higher rate Care component of DLA (disability living allowance) that my daughter had been awarded -- we literally got the letter informing of this that DAY AFTER the same date that DWP is accusing me of beginning to receive overpayment of CA. My hindsight is definitely not 20/20, but if I ever questioned the weekly payments (and I don't know that I did) perhaps I thought it was the DLA??? I'll never know. Anyway, I want to plead Not Guilty as I don't feel I've done anything wrong. BTW, after the IUC I received an Overpayment Letter of £7,900 in May 2012. I repaid this IN FULL a week later. This information has not been acknowledged by the DWP nor was it included in the very large packet of 'evidence' (payslips, transcript of my interview, etc) against me to substatiate the Charge. I'm looking for opinions, advice, etc as I have never broken the law, not even a speeding ticket, and am Really Scared about this. Thanks in advance for your help.
  9. According to the Social Security Administration Act 1992 s116 (2) there are "strict" time limits on when DWP prosecutions are allowed to proceed. The time limits are that evidence of offence/intention to prosecute should be laid before a magistrate; Within 3 months of sufficient evidence coming to light to prosecute OR Up to 12 months from the committing of the offence, whichever is the latter. The date from which the clock starts to tick is dependent upon when a Certificate is issued. Does anyone know who issues the certificate, where, and how it is issued? Help appreciated. M.
  10. Hi, I have received a letter inviting me to an interview under caution at my council offices. An officer from the council and the DWP will be interviewing me. Nobody will tell me the reasons for this. The only reason on the letter is 'We have reason to believe that you may have failed to declare your true circumstances'. The only thing that I can think it could be is the fact that I have had a baby. I am not claiming an extra housing benefit since having the baby as I currently house share. I suffer very greatly with depression and anxiety. I have started receiving child tax credits. Could this be the reason? I informed everyone when I had the baby, he's 11 months now, but may not have told the council as I was not planning to claim any extra benefit from them. Please help me, I am not coping at all well with this.Thanks
  11. Hi there - Im after some advice if anyone can help. My sister-in-law has been accused of benefit and housing fraud and was due to have a Tribunal Hearing today. Her solicitor was confident that she would be found not guilty as the DPW have no real evidence and are just trying their luck (she isnt guilty of what they are accusing her of). She turned up at the Hearing to be told that the Tribunal will not be going ahead as the DWP wish for it to go to Crown Court instead. We were under the impression that the Tribunal were independent and would allow the hearing to go ahead but were persuaded to vacate today's hearing?? She now has to go to Court at the end of the month to enter a plea - anyone know why this is and why they would not allow the Tribunal. Thanks.
  12. Benefit fraud - do i need a lawyer? I have to go to court at the beginning of february charghed with benefit fraud. In the IUC I admitted there has been an overpayment of £16,000 income support and said I would pay it back. I have already put in place direct debits to pay it all back... My mitigating circustances are that I have been deeply in depression and on long term heavy medications (11 years) and I just did not give a damn about what happened to my life, i was living with rats, never washing myself or cleaning my home, etc... for a period of 3 years. I have not used this overpayment for anything or to buy anything or lead a glamorous lifestyle at all. I was just too ill/irrespsonisble to tell them to stop paying me... I will not be getting legal aid - because of an inheritance - (not much but above the limit) so I wonder if it is worth hiring a lawyer for me to just plead guilty and say the above to the court in mitigation as I was asked £4,000 by one lawyer. If I had to hire a lawyer should I hire him to take up the whole case or just to come to court with me? I'd be grateful for any suggestions, especially if they were ASAP.
  13. Hi all thanks for taking the time to read this. Back in sept 2009-jan 2010 my father in law asked me to help in unofficially at work and explained to me i could not be paid he just wanted help. I did so for maybe at a push 2 days a week ranging from an hour to sometimes staying all day. His boss explained to me i could be paid a im not employed and i agreed to help out. As a thank you they agreed to give me a little gratuitous payment which i didnt know about and told me again because im not employed by them she would just give me £30 cash more so for petrol than anything else. A little time later they paid me some money but into my partners account as she already worked for them. This year i have been interviewed under caution for benefit fraud amounting to just under £500! I never had any contract of employment nor p45 upon leaving or anything, during the interview they magically showed me a document clearly not written by me and a computer print out of some payments into my partners account OH and an employee number which the must have generated out of thin air. When they interviewed me i explain the details to them and also that i am under the care of mental health team and cant promise to give accurate info as my medication knocks me out=- they continued to interview me none the less. I am not even able to recall the interview due to my mental state. My point is there is not contractual agreement in place signed or otherwise and any documents they have are either compter generated and or not wrtitten out by me. Im due in court in december and not sure what to do.
  14. I am currently being investigated for benefit fraud. For JSA ESA Housing benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Dating back to 2009. To give you a quick history. My ex huxband was caught cheating in Dec 2008 and in Jan 2009 I threw him out. I had also been made redundant Jan 2009. So I claimed for JSA. I suffered from depression so in Sept 09 I changed my claim to ESA. During both these claims I have also claimed housing and council tax benefit. My ex husband has always been a frequent visitor to my house, as he work in a Comprehensive School about 800 yard from my home. We have a 23 year old son together and a 3 year old grand-daughter. There were outstanding debts at the property of Rent arrears, which we arrange for him to pay a direct debit to the Housing Ass of £50 a month untill it was cleared. There were also gas and electric arrears, which although after he left I had pre paid meters put in on both. I thought it was only fair that he contibuted to the both to clear the arrears. I was approx £6 per week. He was also paying sky for a little while after he left, but that was because I was unable to cancel it because it was in his name. He also paid my car insurance. I had to take my sons ex to court for grand-parents right to see my grand-daughter in 2009 after they split and thing became very strained. This was something that I did alone and did not include my ex husband. Although in 2010 when the court granted me regular access to her. Her mother asked that I was not part of the collection or return process. She ask that her grand-father collect and return her. I hadn't seen my grand-daughter properly in over a year and I agreed to this. This is now part of my court order. The car is need to collect and return my grand-daughter and when I was having financial trouble with the upkeep of the vehicle. My ex agreed to pay the insurance. It is my car and was brought after the split. Also because the court order for access to my grand-daughter is mine. My ex see her at my home. And I will say for all his many fault and problems that we have. That little girl loves him to bits. In Aug 2011 I recieved a letter from that housing benefit office asking my to go in for an interview 2 weeks later. Maybe being a little nieve I went to the interview believing that I didn't need legal representation because I had done nothing wrong. And even stated this during the interview when I was asked if I wanted a solicitor. They had my ex's bank statements which show the £50 rent arrears being paid and the car insurance, 2 months of sky etc. They asked me for all the address he had been staying at. I gave them the address of the school caretakers property to which I know he was staying at one point. But I also explained that my ex was very reluctant to give me any form of forwarding address because he had outstanding debts at my property and did not want me having an address to give people. They said that his bank statement and pay slips still come to my property. To which I did state was true. I also stated that I open them both every month to see what he has earn and where he has been. They also told me of a provident loan that was taken out, in his name at my property in June 2009. This was the first I had heard of this and even phone the Housing benefit office at a later date to get the exact date of the loan. I phoned provident and was told that no detail could be given to me because it was not in my name. But they did tell me that no repayments had ever been made from my home. I also contacted citizens advice and ask if they was anything I could legally do. I was told there was nothing because his the property was still in Joint tenency. ( I couldn't remove his name because of the rent arrears). Since having that interview I have had all my benefits stopped. And the all the letter have started coming through asking me to repay all the benefit dating back to Jan 2009. There is a gap of about 7 months in oct 2009 to May 2010 and when I phoned the benefits office, I was told that was because he was paying rent on the school property then, so is not see as living with me then. I have appealled against all the decision that the benifits office have made. Also also asked the offices that want the repayment to hold them until the apeals are heard. I have also asked for a copy of the taped interview and the transcript. I have also asked both the housing benifits office and the ESA office for a copy of all the information they hold on me under the Freedom of informations act. I have found a part time job of 10hrs a week and hopefully this will cover enough of my rent to stop the housing ass seeking to evict me before the appeals for all this is heard. My ex arrived at my property this morning, shouting and screaming because he has recieved a letter asking him to go for an interview regarding the part he played in my benefit fraud. He is refusing to go to the interview. He just says that he is not claiming any benefit and therefore is not answering any of there questions. It is none of there business where he is living. I am just wondering how much this will count against me? Has anyone else ever had this experience? I don't know how I can make him go? To me it seems that because I cannot supply another address for him. He must be living with me. How can that be right?. I thought it was innocent until proven guilty. Not guilty until you can provide the proof that your innocent? I also think he has been staying with my sister and her partner on and off and I know she is claiming. I don't want to give the benefits office her details as the same might happen to her. Same can be said about his sisters. I know the chances are he has stayed with both of them at some point. This is a nightmare and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Not even the person that rang the office in the first place. I believe another factor in him not providing me with a forwarding address is he stays with the girl he got caught cheating with sometimes and cannot say that because he still want to reconcile with me. Although there is no love loss between me and her and she is probably the one that phoned about the fraud in the first place. She has 2 small children and I can't give that as his address when I don't really know if it is right. This is a nightmare and I wouldn't wish it on anyone including her. If this can happen to me when I have done nothing wrong then it can happen to anyone. What I would really like to know is there anyway I can stop all these appeals and interview etc and Just get them to take me straight to court. I would actually prefer that. I feel that I would have the chance with the legal system that I am not getting with the benefits offices, they seem to have laws of there own. Can I take them to court to force then to prove there allegation?
  15. Hi, this is the first time to this site and I need help, i just dont know where to turn. My boyfriend is being taken to court for claiming carers allowance while working and being paid over the maximum £95 limit. He is being done under section 111A (a) and (3) of the SSAA 1992 (stating dishonestly) rather than 112 (without dishonesty). (And also Section 15A (1) and (5) of the Theft Act 1968. The thing is he didnt even know there was a limit of earnings. A close family member said that he was elligible and actually filled out the form for him (the difference in writing is clear to see on the form). He then just signed it and the family member then sent it off. My boyfriend moved in with his mother who was and is still seriously ill 5 years ago, leaving his job and home in another city. He took over the family business at the same time took wages of £140 per week and has never increased this (This is well below that of what he had earned before and actually if you add up the hours he does it is so far below that of minimum wage it is unbelievable.) At the time of putting in the claim he was under incredible stress due to everything that was going on. I can not understand how they think that he did this knowingly. I have checked on the web and see "Where an offence under s111A is alleged the prosecution must prove dishonesty and that the offender himself realised that he was behaving dishonestly by the standards of ordinary and decent people (the Ghosh test)." (from accountingevidence . com) He had made a terrible judgement of error in trusting a close member of the family to act on his behalf and not checking before sending the form but he certainly didnt do it with any intent or knowledge. Actually as soon as he had notice last year that this had come to light (and it only did so because he was made a partner in the family business) we went on the web together and checked the entitlements as we couldnt believe that his close member of the family had not known this. I understand that upon signing the form he was signing that everything was correct and he does accept that but his neglect was not due to him wanting to be deceitful or trying to hide something. He has always said that had it not been for the close member of the family saying that he was entitled to this then he would never have claimed as he cant be bothered with the forms. I am so scared for him as I know he is a good man, with a good standing within the local community. If he pleads guilty then it is like he is admiting he was dishonest and did this on purpose which he did not. If he pleads not guilty then are they going to throw the book at him? I cant see why the DWP couldnt see and hear this when they took his statement last year. He is set to go to Magistrates court next month. I just dont know what to expect or do. The fact that we have a young baby, we live with his mother and care for her, and there is the family business that can not run without him. What if they put him in jail? Even the thought of having a criminal record is distroying him. I dont know where to turn and what we should do. Please please please, if you have any advise let me know. Thanks
  16. I recieved a letter from the council asking me to attend an interview under caution as they think I have lied about my partner living with me. He moved out last May as we seperated. I claimed help with council tax & rent as only working part time. This was all fine but now they all of a sudden don't believe me, nearly a year later! My Ex has not had a perment address after having to move out of his parents house last Nov, and currently lives with some friends. He has not changed his address with his bank etc, and even though I keep asking him he won't untill he gets perment address for himself. I am assuming this is the evidence they have. We did change his council tax bill address to his parents at the time though, so they must know this? He does spend every other weekend here to have his time with our child but sleeps in the lounge and mostly I spend that weekend away. He also, if not working, will look after our child when I am working, in the house as he has no-where else to go. Anyway, I know there is not any time limit law on how many nights he can stay. I don't do his laundry or cook for him but the council won't know this unless I tell them or they visit the home. We are 100% not together but what can I do to proove this? What can I do to show he does not live here and has not since last May? I am asking him to write a statement explaining why he has not changed his address and still uses it for correspondence etc and thought maybe to get a statement from my neighbour. Would this help?
  17. Hi All, I'm a newbie, and rightly or wrongly in a panic! So, where to start? I'll try and be as brief as I can: I've just received a scary letter (yesterday) from the council asking me to attend a formal interview on Tuesday 15th March (in accordance with the Police & criminal Evidence Act) that says I am being investigated for Council Tax Benefit Fraud. It doesn't say what they think I've done, and I don't know if I'm guilty, but this all started when I approached them a few weeks ago. It talks about criminal proceedings being taken. I was supposed to be at a training event that day for a charity I volunteer with, and now will have to miss it, much to the charity's cost (not that I'd be much use there on Tuesday any more after reading this letter!) Background: I was made redundant in Sep 2008 after being signed-off sick from work since June that year. I was suffering from Depression & Anxiety (and still am), but I got a decent redundancy pay-out as I'd been there for 9 years. My illness was because of the stress of dealing with my ex's own mental illness (she's bipolar) it tore us apart and caused all sorts of problems...one of the biggest issues I'm having is that the medication I have had to take has had a major impact on my brain's usefulness. I can barely concentrate long enough to make a cup of tea, let alone deal with the stress of a fraud investigation, and my memory is useless. So many things over the last 3 years are just a blur. I am really worried that I might have messed up and be in trouble, so I'm trying to find an experienced benefits/fraud solicitor in the South Yorkshire area that can help me sort this mess out and avoid a criminal conviction if possible?! I don't know how relevant it is, but she had what they call a "major episode" in April 2005 which was basically the beginning of the end for us, but some how I managed to hold down my job, and in April 2007 we bought a new house together. She seemed a lot better but I think the house was more of a sticking-plaster for our failing relationship, and in October that year we split-up. She didn't have anywhere else to go, and the house was in her name too, so we both lived here (not as a couple) as long as we could, but it was too much for us in the end, and in May last year she moved out to go back to her parents. Anyway, with the housing boom having been at it's height, and me having a well-paid job at the time, I managed to buy the new house and keep hold of the old one to rent out, which it has been, on-and-off, since we moved to the new one (I think in May 2007). Ever since then, of course, we had the housing crash, so both properties are in negative equity (even though the old one is only little, I was there for just 3 years, so barely dented the mortgage), so I haven't even been able to sell one or both of them in the meantime, either. Benefits When I applied for benefits in late 2008 / early 2009, I told them about the other house, and so started getting IB and some council tax benefit. My ex was also receiving IB, DLA & Council Tax benefit for some of the time she was living here -I don't know the exact details off the top of my head. (As far as I know, she was entitled to 100% benefit on council tax for the period she lived here and was claiming, so I'm guessing the problem is some time either-side of that period when just my claim was eligible?) So, the rent & IB/CTB wasn't enough to cover the bills, and by May last year, all my savings & redundancy were gone, I'd pretty-much maxed-out all my credit cards, and emptied my overdraft. I really didn't want to lose everything, so against my doctor's advice I made the difficult decision to try and get back into work. At the time I told the Benefits Agency I was looking for work, and managed to get a small part-time contract (self-employed) for just enough to make ends meet. The Benefits people were really helpful, and told me they'd sort out informing the council tax and not to worry about it. So I didn't. That was a mistake! Both of them overpaid me. I told the benefits people, but they didn't seem to do anything about recovering the overpayment, but they did stop paying me the IB. And sent me a reassuring letter, so I thought that was that and promptly forgot all about it. I then got a letter from the council asking for documents to support my claim for council tax (which I thought was cancelled) so I went to their office myself and told them that they shouldn't still be paying me and that I had already started work. I provided them with the details, they sent me a bill for repayment, and will hopefully have the funds to pay the bill when it hits my bank account later this month. Fraud As far as I know, I've always told them truthful answers to any questions they've asked, but due to my mental weakness I have absolutely no confidence in myself or recollection of exactly what they asked or what I said back, so am having to rely on what paper trail I can get my hands on at such short notice. I've got a nagging feeling that it's to do with the amount of rent / mortgage payments on the other house varying and so affecting my income? I just don't know what information I gave to which agencies. I thought they were all the same thing, but obviously not. If it turns out I owe them money, I'll do everything in my power to repay it, but if I get a criminal conviction for fraud, my career is effectively over! Anybody know what I can do between now and Tuesday afternoon? (...other than crap myself and pace around all day & night -tried that already, it's not helping!) Off topic: ...And if that doesn't make things bad enough, it looks like I'm a serial fraudster, as I didn't realise that I've supposed to have been paying extra tax on the the other house's rent money too, and I haven't been! -so off to another forum to post about advice on that now too. I feel like such a failure today -what else have I got wrong too? Thanks so much in advance to anybody that can offer a referral or any scraps of helpful advice, Paul. P.S. I promise to keep this thread updated with any "progress" ...or you can PM me if this site supports that? ...so sorry for such a long first post too.
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