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fem81

benefit fraud prosecution advice please

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I am new to the forum and would appreciate any advice given.

 

Me and husband had IUC last sept which we attended.

This was based on claiming IS,HB,CT.

We failed to notify changes in circumstances namely my husbands new job.

We had and still have a lot of strain and stress at home which led to our stupidity, i.e living conditions, a new baby, redundancy.

I am not excusing what we did in any way! We accept all responsibility for this which we stated in the IUC.

We recieved an overpayment letter last oct for repayments for the HB which we are still paying, we cleared the CT overpayment because this was a small amount.

The total we overclaimed was 3,816. 1700 IS 1600 HB, the remainder CT.

we have cleared the CT and have paid roughly 400 back on the HB

Last wk we recieved a court summons for 2 charges, failing to notify changes that would affect our benefit and failing to notiufy the council.

We have instructed a solicitor and he has adjourned the court date that was originally this wk.

where do we go from here? we have been co-operative with the dwp, even forwading our new address.

Do we find the money from somewhere to carry on with the solicitor? he is trying to see if he can get the prosecution dropped obviously this will cost money.

do you think we could appeal as to why we were not ffered an admin penalty as we have been paying back overpayments, have no previous CR.

I have 2 children under 3 also and the stress is affecting us all, we are at breaking point.

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The DWP has to refer cases for prosecution if the resulting overpayment was in excess of £2000; they cannot offer an admin penalty unless the departmental solicitors direct it. A decision on whether to commence prosecution proceedings is not an appealable decision. Your solicitor will need to liaise with the departmental solicitors to establish whether they are prepared to drop the prosecution case against you. If they choose to do this, the remaining overpayment is still recoverable. If they choose not to do this, the fact that you have both admitted guilt straight away, have co-operated fully with the DWP and paid back a large sum of the amount that was overpaid, and have no previous convictions will sit well with the court.


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.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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thank you for your prompt reply. very much appreciated.

 

In your opinion would you advise i carry on with a solicitor? whatever we do have in our favour is that enough to represent ourselves? also he has adjourned the court date, he thinks the chances are very slim going by the evidence they have against us. what would happen to the court date?

 

also we are worried me or my husband will be given community service.

how would that affect my husbands job, earning a living and me bringing up my 2 babies.

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I'm afraid that only you can make that decision in regard to your solicitor. If they continue with the prosecution case, the court will issue you with a new court date to attend.

 

Community Service can be worked to fit in with a job and childcare; Social Work would liaise with you if this was the sentence. For example, it can be one day per week till the hours are worked off.

 

Whatever the sentence may be, a solicitor can be beneficial in arguing the point. For example, if a fine was imposed, they can explain the financial circumstances, how much you could afford toward the fine per week etc.

 

Culpability factors the court will look at:

 

Offending carried out over a long period

Offender acting with others

Planning

Motivated by greed or desire to live beyond his other means

False identities or details

False or forged documents

Official documents altered or falsified.

 

The agrivating and mitigating factors a court will consider can include:

 

  1. a guilty plea;
  2. the amount involved and the length of time over which the defalcations were persisted in (bearing in mind that a large total may in fact represent a very small amount weekly);
  3. the circumstances in which the offence began (e.g. there is a plain difference between a legitimate claim which becomes false owing to a change of situation and on the other hand a claim which is false from the very beginning);
  4. the use to which the money is put (the provision of household necessities is more venial than spending the money on unnecessary luxury);
  5. previous character;
  6. matters special to the offender, such as illness, disability, family difficulties, etc;
  7. any voluntary repayment of the amounts overpaid.

It's a failure to notify a change in circs. It wasn't fraudulent from the outset. Not organised. No false docs. You have some very good mitigating factors.

 

Prison? - I'd guess not a chance of that happening.

Community Service?- hmmm...not impossible, but unlikley taking into account the sum of the overpayment, the fact that most of it is repaid and the fact that it was a first offence and was not fraudulent from the outset.

Fine? likely

 

See the attachment in my post (below). Click on it. It will have bookmarks at the right hand side. If you can't see a book mark, click on the second icon on the left hand side - looks like a book with a ribbon on it. This will open the bookmarks. Scroll down till you see "benefit fraud" (important that you click on benefit fraud - the rest of it is irrelevant) - this will tell you all that you need to know.

 

Hope this answers some questions.

Erika.

sentencing guidelines.pdf


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.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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thank you erika, your information is greatly appreciated, you have been an enormous help and obviously know what your talking about.

 

yes the claim was legit from the start, my husband was made redundant in the feb, we claimed that month and he found work the march.

overcrowded housing situation, in and out of hosp with pregnancy and new baby, redundancy etc lead to us failing to report his new job, we only realised in july when we recieved a tax credits form for our new baby, we then cancelled all claims otherwise they would have kept paying them.

 

so overpayment for 5 months is what we are guilty of.

I just wish they could have settled for an admin penalty as we have been paying repayments back and as we are not bad people, we made a mistake, one we are to pay a high price for.

 

 

thanks again, please god everything turns out for the best, the worrying is sickening

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Hi, I've been in you position. I got taken to court too so I can tell you what happened with my case. I had a solicitor, invaluable, as I could never have represented myself. If the rules haven't changed you will get either, community service or a fine. I went to magistrates court feeling like my life was over, the absolute worst experience of my life. I went in, my solicitor outlined some mitigating curcumstances ( I had paid off my overpayment of £3,100) I got a £100 fine on each charge with £100 costs and £15 victim surcharge. The magistrates were perfectly nice human ppl (I had imagined monsters lol) all in all it wasn't half as bad as I expected to be honest with you. I was only in there half an hour and it was over. My overpayment was in the same ish range as yours so I would expect the punishment would be the same ish. good luck with it, why is it being adjourned? get it over with I say especially as you admitted it. x

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I don't think they will drop the prosecution either if its gone this far, so if you gonna spend money on it maybe you should get different advice.

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thanks for the reply scaredtodeath

 

yes we dont think it can dropped now so me and my husband have decided to inform the solicitor we no longer need him as he wants to continue trying to drop the case and also requires a high amount which we havent got and also bearing in mind we have to pay the fine back.

 

it was adjourned because of him wanting to see if he can get the prosecution dropped and as thats unlikely theirs no ppoint on wasting good money on him trying to achieve the impossible, we agree that we want this out of the way so i am going to go about getting a another court date.

 

thanks again for the replies

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thanks scaredtodeath

 

well glad i didnt carry on with this solicitor his useless.

the case wasnt adjourned after all, i took it upon myself to ring the court and the case is still on for that day, he gave me some date in sept.

rediculous considering i could have been marked as a know show.

another thing i didnt know is that their is a duty solicitor available at court.

 

so we are still on for fri.

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Hi fem81,

No advice from me I'm afraid, just my best wishes to you all. You seem to be going about things in a right and sensible manner .

Fingers crossed and good luck.

Rae

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That's terrible. If you hadn't turned up, you could have been faced with a further fine for failure to appear at your appointed diet. Just as well you rang.

 

Yes you can use the duty solicitor. Just ask when you turn up at reception.

 

I don't think it will be a hefty punishment given what you have said about the fraud. Like I said, it's a failure to inform a CoC, it's a small overpayment (in the grand scheme of things). Yes, it was wrong but it's hardly crime of the century. I've seen far worse and so too will have the judge/magistrate.

 

Speak to the duty solicitor, tell him/her of your life changes and other things which contributed to the failure to inform so that (s)he may use it in mitigation on your behalf.

 

Oh - don't be freaked by my mentioning "Social Work" re community service (which is possible but unlikely). I don't mean Social work will interfere with the family; it's not the family division. All community orders are supervised by Social Work Criminal Justice (formerly the probation service). The family division of SW won't be involved - it's a seperate department. I just meant that The SWCJ will liaise with you over family and work commitments in order to work out how best to complete community service without it causing too much disruption, if community service was imposed. A lot of people freak out when I mention "Social Work" and instantly think SW as in "child protection" - totally different kettle of fish.


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.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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thanks for the reply erika

 

yes quite annoyed rearly in the lack of service we got from the solicitor.

just goes to show how you can be taken advantage of in these situations.

 

i spoke to a local solicitor on the phone today, she advised me that when i know the court date to let her know and she will tell me if she is the duty solicitor for that day so i wouldnt have to pay.

now i have the court date i will ring her again tomorrow i think to see if she is in that day.

 

do you know how long you have to speak to the duty solicitor at the court before your case starts?

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Hi, I don't know anything about duty solicitors cos I had my own, mine turned up about 5 minutes before court start lol and although I had seen a different solicitor and given all my details I had to go through everything with her. It didn't take long and then we were called, I think all court starts at a set time (mine was 10am) but everyone is given the same time, there's a list up in the foyer with names but no times. I should imagine that if you need more time someone else would go before you but I don't know that for sure, maybe someone else will know more than me. I would get there early though, about half an hour before so you're first in the queue if anyone else needs it x

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just to say thank you all for the advice.

 

well had the dreaded court appearance, the magistrate and our solicitor were very nice people and fortunately things worked out for the best.

originally we were looking at community service but once we explained our circumstances to the solicitor we were releived to be given a 250 pound fine, 75 pound charge and 15 pound victim charge.

 

have to say this has to be the worst experince you can go through and i dont know how people do this intentionally as the worry has made us ill.

thank god their some good people out their with some compassion.

 

if anyone is in this situation please be honest from the start and this is very serious and if your not fortunate enough like we were you will be very sorry.

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Good to hear it went okay for you. xx

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thanks loopinlouie

 

was a very scary experince and couldnt beleive the attitude of some people that are in these places, they didnt seem remorsful at all.

just very thankful :)

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I thought it would be a fine. I'll bet you are relieved that it is over?


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.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)

 

 

 

 

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Glad its all over for you and went well :) I know what you mean about some people, they just don't care. I never forget my solicitor saying, while we were talking about community service, "you'll meet real criminals then" lol I'd never have coped! still cant see myself as a criminal lol

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yes defo erika.

when we first met the solicitor she thought it would prob be adjourned but dont think she realised our circumstances, also having paid some back helped.

so glad it hasnt dragged on, i think we they could see we were genuine, we looked so scared lol

 

scaredtodeath, i know, i wouldnt make a very good criminal lol

 

also i think the rpospect of me having no childcare arrangements didnt appeal to the court for community service. as i dont have any family somehow they would have had to arrange this if thats what they wanted to push for

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So glad things went well for you fem81. Now you can relax and have a good weekend ... :)

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thats great you got everything sorted

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hi there

in june i was invitied to a iuc at my local housing office

my ex have had previous credit aggreements together so when i moved into my new house the credit followed both agreements where in both names he stays at his sisters house it was alleged he was stayin in my house and had been since stay dot so my housing benefit was suspended but recently reinstated in full and backdated now the fraud squad are interviewing friends/family regarding my case

please help i dont know what to do

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Hello there. I suggest you start your own thread and tell us as much as you can please. That way you'll get advice specific to your problem and not following on from this thread.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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