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Interview under caution help


worriedmum1
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I've received a fairly threatening letter from the fraud investigation service which states I need to attend an IUC:

 

"We have arranged this interview because we believe there are grounds for suspecting that you may have committed a criminal offence in relation to a benefit claim because of your income."

 

I've called them and they've refused to tell me what the claim is about, and I have no idea! I'm married and have always been married and claimed for us both. My circumstances haven't changed. There is no one else new living here or not living here, no extra income or jobs etc. I thought it might have been some sort of mistake but then did a search on here and have read some very strongly worded posts about how these interviews occur when they have extensive evidence against people etc- I just don't understand what I'm supposed to have done, they can't have any evidence because I haven't done anything wrong!

 

The ONLY thing that has happened recently is that my solicitor has informed me they've settled the case on a car accident I had in April. The defendant's solicitiors paid a lump sum to my solicitor, at least three quarters of which is for the car hire charges etc so wasn't paid to me. I only received my compensation cheque (£2500) a few days ago, it hasn't even cleared in my bank yet- could it really be related to that? They've taken a good few weeks to get the cheque to me, would that be enough time for the DWP to be informed and for them to send me a letter like this? I haven't even had the money yet and fully intended to declare it once it cleared as I knew that it counted as income and that they'd be informed (the solicitor's letter stated they'd be informed so it's not as if I wouldn't bother telling them!) That is literally the only thing I can think of, would they seriously interview me under caution about a £2500 compensation payout that hasn't even cleared in my bank yet?

Edited by worriedmum1
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Can no one help? :-( I really am worried about this. I guess all I want to know is whether or not it's possible for the compensation to be the reason for this very strongly worded letter and taped interview? I genuinely cannot think of anything else and someone told me that as soon as you accept an award, the DWP are informed. The cheque still hasn't cleared, though.

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Hi worriedmum

 

Welcome to CAG,

 

Don't panic, you don't know what it is about, although you think you have a fairly good idea. Some one will respond, but it might take a bit of time.

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Hi worried

 

You've come to the right place, the guys here will advise. Most of the time these letters are generated by computers, there not nice, there very blunt. So best to keep a perspective on the matter.

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It sounds far too quick for the compensation payment to have come to light, but you should take evidence of the agreement (including car hire & dates etc) with you to the IUC just in case.

 

Other than that there's not much other advice I can give you other than checking any bank accounts you have to see if you have received any other payments or income that you have not declared.

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The only reason I'm wondering about the compensation is because my husband also received some, and he had a letter from the DWP before he even received the cheque stating they'd been informed that that the amount was under the threshold and he didn't have anything to pay back. I haven't received that letter and hadn't got round to telling them when I received the letter on Friday because the cheque hadn't even arrived, the solicitors took at least a month after I accepted the offer to get the cheque to me.

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The reason stated on the IUC letter say "because of your income." This would seem to suggest something other than the compensation but the letter could be a catch-all.

 

You can do more than go to the interview armed to the teeth with full correspondence from the solicitor relating to the claim and a copy of your bank statement. You have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear.

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Hmmm, not sure, but maybe your husband's compensation was below the limit but added to yours it takes you above the limit??

 

Having been through IUC knowing I hadn't done anything dishonest, and thinking all the advice about speaking to an experienced advisor was meant for other people and not me (D'oh!) I would say TALK TO CAB or other advisor immediately. The advisor should be able to contact them and find out what it is all about, you shouldn't have to go to an IUC without knowing what they suspect you of.

 

My experience is most definitely NOT that they only bring you to IUC when they have enough evidence against you, actually it's the other way around. They want you to give them all the evidence they need in IUC, so talk to someone and get advice. If they have given you a date and you don't think you can get enough advice before then, then cancel the date and say you need more time to get legal advice.

 

They can't make a negative inference from not attending a voluntary interview, if you say you need to get advice.

 

Or, you can turn up (wearing your balls of steel) and ask them what they are accusing you of and then say you wish to end the interview to get legal advice without answering any questions. Again, they cannot continue with an interview after you have said you want to take legal advice, and they can't infer anything negative from that.

 

Good luck.

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Thanks for the advice. I don't think there will be time to get legal advice or support, and I didn't think I'd need it because as far as I know I've done nothing wrong. I've noticed a lot of threads on here seem to suggest that it's really important to have this support, though. Could anyone explain why this is? What would a representative do? I was thinking I'd just go along and they'd just tell me immediately what the issue is and ask if I can explain, and then I could do so (presuming it's something I CAN explain, I'm still confused about what else it would refer to). Are they really that bad? Are they trying to trick people into admitting things they haven't done? The guy my husband spoke to on the phone was reasonable and said he couldn't give details before the interview but that the adviser who I'd be seeing was very nice (my husband referred to my anxiety issues), and when my husband said "is this something to be worried about?" he said no, no, we just want to hear her side of the story because something has obviously shown up on the computer system."

 

Is it vital to get legal support? If I have to cancel the interview, I'll spend another week or two fretting, but then I don't want to walk into some sort of trap either. I can't even view bank statements beyond a year ago to see if there was anything they might query and can't remember anything.

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I have to say I thought like you before I went through it - we have done nothing wrong, they failed to act on a letter and we are being prosecuted for their error!

 

Take the stress out of it and get advice.

 

While they are supposed to tell you what it's all about about, they don't. They will tell an advisor more about what the issue is.

 

The other reason you need an advisor is you can THINK you've done nothing that a reasonable person wouldn't do, but you can still have fallen foul of either the real regulations or how the investigator reads the regulations - there are literally thousands of pages of regs, and none of the staff have a grip on them, really.

 

You do not HAVE to attend the interview at the time they state. Simply call up and ask for a delay while you get advice.

 

If they were just looking for your explanation, there would be no need to conduct it as a formal Interview Under Caution.

 

The main reason they want you be recorded in a way that can be used in legal action is so they can take that legal action. Most Fraud Investigators get paid a bonus for finding 'fraudsters' - real or not!

 

 

Honestly, I am an intelligent, articulate, confident person who knew they had not done anything wrong or illogical and certainly had (and would) never try to fraud the system ... but I have to answer criminal Fraud charges in court in a few weeks - apparently I have a legal duty to report changes to my husband's circumstances and DWP have a 100% record in handling correspondence! I don't and they don't - they are simply wrong in fact and in law, but it hasn't stopped them.

 

GET AN ADVISOR!

Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. An advisor will be able to identify clear stupidities before it gets out of hand and keep you right with complex regulations and procedures. Investigators will pretend they don't have to tell you anything, but they'll give disclosure to your advisor so you'll know what you are up against. They can also see what evidence they have against you - normally it is little and the investigators are relying on you admitting things in the interview.

 

They will try to get you to admit that you know what changes you should report, and tell you that you are not allowed to come to your own opinion about WHEN you should tell them changes, and then get you to admit you should have told them sooner - BINGO you are guilty by your own admission of an offence without actually realising it, as everything you have said makes perfect sense to a normal person! Advisors know these games and will be able to guide you through it all. Better still, if you know what it is all about you can write a statement and simply read it out at the interview.

 

Fraud Investigators make Traffic Wardens look like volunteer florence nightingales. They are nasty, underhanded, deceitful people who are out to get you to say the wrong thing and put you under so much stress you take a penalty, formal caution or criminal 'guilty' plea just to get your life back.

 

Nip it in the bud and get advice, seriously, learn from my mistake! :-)

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Thankyou for that, it's really appreciated. Where is the best place to contact for advice, bearing in mind we can't afford to engage a solicitor and wouldn't really want to until we find out what it's all about as it may be a mistake anyway?

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The lovely people at Citizens Advice Bureau - assuming you are entitled to Legal Aid.

 

We're not, we have to pay for all our advice, and finding private welfare rights advisors & solicitors who know what they are talking about is hard bloody work!

 

:-)

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I have to say I thought like you before I went through it - we have done nothing wrong, they failed to act on a letter and we are being prosecuted for their error!

 

Take the stress out of it and get advice.

 

While they are supposed to tell you what it's all about about, they don't. They will tell an advisor more about what the issue is.

 

The other reason you need an advisor is you can THINK you've done nothing that a reasonable person wouldn't do, but you can still have fallen foul of either the real regulations or how the investigator reads the regulations - there are literally thousands of pages of regs, and none of the staff have a grip on them, really.

 

You do not HAVE to attend the interview at the time they state. Simply call up and ask for a delay while you get advice.

 

If they were just looking for your explanation, there would be no need to conduct it as a formal Interview Under Caution.

 

The main reason they want you be recorded in a way that can be used in legal action is so they can take that legal action. Most Fraud Investigators get paid a bonus for finding 'fraudsters' - real or not!

 

 

Honestly, I am an intelligent, articulate, confident person who knew they had not done anything wrong or illogical and certainly had (and would) never try to fraud the system ... but I have to answer criminal Fraud charges in court in a few weeks - apparently I have a legal duty to report changes to my husband's circumstances and DWP have a 100% record in handling correspondence! I don't and they don't - they are simply wrong in fact and in law, but it hasn't stopped them.

 

GET AN ADVISOR!

Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. An advisor will be able to identify clear stupidities before it gets out of hand and keep you right with complex regulations and procedures. Investigators will pretend they don't have to tell you anything, but they'll give disclosure to your advisor so you'll know what you are up against. They can also see what evidence they have against you - normally it is little and the investigators are relying on you admitting things in the interview.

 

They will try to get you to admit that you know what changes you should report, and tell you that you are not allowed to come to your own opinion about WHEN you should tell them changes, and then get you to admit you should have told them sooner - BINGO you are guilty by your own admission of an offence without actually realising it, as everything you have said makes perfect sense to a normal person! Advisors know these games and will be able to guide you through it all. Better still, if you know what it is all about you can write a statement and simply read it out at the interview.

 

Fraud Investigators make Traffic Wardens look like volunteer florence nightingales. They are nasty, underhanded, deceitful people who are out to get you to say the wrong thing and put you under so much stress you take a penalty, formal caution or criminal 'guilty' plea just to get your life back.

 

Nip it in the bud and get advice, seriously, learn from my mistake! :-)

 

 

If you are going to make statements on here can you at least make sure they are true & not just based on rumours, gossip or your own prejudices because you were caught out!

 

I really haven't got time to go through all of it & correct it but Fraud Investigators do not get paid a bonus for finding fraudsters. For the last few years that I was an investigator the only bonus I received was a non consolidated amount instead of a pay rise, just like a lot of other DWP staff.

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I think the fact that an investigator will decide from my statement that I had done nothing wrong that I was 'caught out' just about sums up everything I said about investigators!! No chance of being innocent until proven guilty, as soon as they start to investigate you, you are assumed to be guilty.

 

We were investigated because DWP failed to act on a letter we sent to them closing my husband's claim for Carers Allowance when he got work. The investigator knew that my husband was still my carer and primary carer of our two daughters, that didn't stop him demanding that we email the computer file of the letter to him "by 8pm at the latest" on the day my husband was interviewed, even though my husband had said he didn't know which of the 3 hard drives (2 from broken computers that would need the PC to be taken apart and hard drive inserted to check them) the letter was on, and he had to care for our daughters and prepare the evening meal when he would only get home at 6pm! When he emailled the file over 33 minutes late (i.e. 8.33pm) this is recorded in the investigator's statement as being "sent beyond the agreed reasonable timescale" and then because we don't use MS Office but use Open Office we emailled a pdf of the letter and the original file, this is in his statement as being "no MS word file was sent, only files DWP was unable to open with prescribed software". Seriously, his statement says that because a low income family chooses not to spend money on Microsoft licenses, or to break the law by using unlicensed software, and the DWp don't know how to open pdfs, this somehow makes us more guilty of their error!

 

 

The non-consolidated bonus IS a performance related bonus - and what is performance of a Fraud Investigator if not 'finding fraudsters'???? It is tied to hitting numerical targets on what are described as 'successful' investigations (i.e. an investigation that has led to some manner of sanction - note an investigation is not considered successful if it ends up showing the claimant did nothing wrong, or the DWP made an error!).

 

Thanks, Jabba, for helping me prove my case about what lovely people we are dealing with here!

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The non-consolidated bonus IS a performance related bonus

It is performance related in name only. For the past few years practically everyone in the DWP has received the same performace marking regardless of how well they've done & the bonus has been used as a bribe to push through non existant pay awards. So whilst I did have a target, whether I reached it or not made no difference to my bonus.

 

Thanks, Jabba, for helping me prove my case about what lovely people we are dealing with here!

 

Maybe I should stop giving advice on here & leave to you & you're amazing knowledge of how things work to help those who've been called in for an IUC in the future.

 

You can come up with more gems like "While they are supposed to tell you what it's all about about, they don't."

 

A fraud investigator will not tell you or your "advisor" anything about the case prior to the IUC other than what type of case it is eg. employment, excess capital etc etc.

 

If you have a solicitor then they can ask for disclosure just prior to the IUC, but the investigator CAN refuse it if they wish. Although it would be very rare to do this.

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Hi Worriedmum, you could always ring your solicitor and ask if he informed the DWP of this payment, although this would be very unlikely indeed. Nor can I see the DWP having access to your bank statement(s) so quickly. Perhaps they have a way of getting your bank details very quickly, but I'm unsure of this. I hope all goes well for you.

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Surely if you get paid compensation this is for a loss you had previously and in a true sense cannot be regarded as income? Are there any rules regarding compensation payments and benefits? If so can any one elaborate or supply a link? Thanks.

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There are rules regarding compensation payments and benefits, yes. There is a dedicated department set up for recoveries:

 

Compensation Recovery Unit

 

More information 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.

 

 

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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It doesn't seem to cover compensation for a mishap that occurred 3 - 4 years before you were on benefits but only got paid the compensation at a later point while on benefits, i.e. compensation was for loss of earnings at time of mishap.

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Those links I gave are for recovery of benefits which were paid at the time, from the compensator - apologies. Someone mentions compensation and benefits the CRU is the first thing that pops into my head.

 

If you receive compensation for a personal injury, this is usually treated as capital for the purposes of income based benefits.

 

Capital

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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