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Called for an interview under caution and I'm worried.... Please help


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Hi all,

Today I have received a letter telling me I'm being investigated for benefit fraud and I must attend an interview under caution.

I can categorically state I've not been involved in benefit fraud and I'm a mixture of angry and worried.

I called them to ask what it was about and all they would say is that they have reason to believe my partner was living with me when I claimed.

 

Here's the situation:

I was living with my partner until June 2010. Due to various reasons we separated and he moved out.

From this point I claimed benefits as I was looking after our child etc.

He moved into work accommodation and paid his rent, bills and registered to vote etc etc. This can obviously be proven.

We had a child together and when I called benefits to advise that my partner moved out they said "will you be sorting out child maintenance?" I replied that we would sort it out between us which they were happy with.

 

We were amicable for the sake of our daughters and he suggested paying the gas, electric, water, tv license aswell as contributing to clothes, nappies etc for kids. This contribution amounted to about the same value as the £180 per month I would get from the CSA. It made sense too as I only have a post office account so could not have direct debits. So he kept to the direct debits.

 

His accommodation was a single room in works accommodation and due to the nature of his work it was not appropriate for kids to go there. He would come and visit the kids and take them out a few days a week. On the odd occasion he would stay overnight to look after them more. He would sleep on the sofa and didn't eat with us at all as he was on maximuscle protein shakes so didn't eat lol.

By staying over on the odd occasion I mean rarely.

 

This continued for months.

 

In may 2011 we began to discuss getting back together and he moved in early June and we immediately informed dwp and hmrc etc.

 

Today 6/7 weeks later we have received this letter. I'm just worried and angry as I don't see that Ive done anything wrong at all.

 

I can prove he lived elsewhere.

 

What evidence could they have when ive been completely above board?

 

Any help, advice etc would be great.

 

Thanks

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Hi,

It doesn't say anything apart from they suspect we lived together.

I didn't think they'd get straight to an interview under caution based on a malicious call. They say they have evidence though.

 

I wondered if they'd seen that he moved back in when I told them and something flagged up and they've looked at it and saw that he paid the utility bills etc....

 

It was our own private maintenance agreement so I don't see that I've done anything wrong.

 

I can't see what evidence they have but they say they have it.

 

I'm just so worried it's making me ill, I'm already stressed enough following pregnancy.

 

I'm just worried that even though we've done nothing wrong and even though I've kept the relevant departments up to date with the facts that they'll try and stitch me up with something.

 

It's catch 22 because I can't afford a solicitor to come with me and we aren't eligible for legal aid and CAB only suggest getting a solicitor.

 

I can take a friend but I assume my partner wouldn't be allowed in their which is gutting as he is so good legally and knows PACE and interviews under caution like the back of his hand.

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it does sound as if they have basically nothing,what it does sound like is that by sending threatening letters without any evidence suggests that they are relying on the person to incriminate themselves thus provide evidence.a confession in other words.

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it sounds like someone has called them you would be suprised how sad some people are!! just be honest write everything down, you havent done anything wrong so they carnt prove that you have. keep us updated x

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Thanks everyone for responses so far. I just don't see how they would go straight to an interview under caution based on somebody being malicious. When I called to query it they wouldn't tell me anything apart from saying they had evidence.

Evidence of what I wonder as I can't see that I've done anything wrong at all

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Hello, SMC1989. I'll explain a little how these reports are followed up.

 

When a report is made either online or via phone, the information reported will be investigated. They will look at the history of the claim and follow up other lines of enquiry based on the information received. If there is found to be no evidence, no further action is pursued and the claimant has no idea that their claim has been looked into. In cases where there are some indicators but they are weak, the case is referred to a local compliance team and they will send a letter either inviting the claimant to an enquiry interview (not under caution) at the office or telling the claimant that they will call at their home on a specific date. Where there are strong indicators of potential fraud, an authorised officer from the Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) can obtain more evidence; they can look into accounts, employment, credit records, DVLA records and more. In some cases, covert surveillance is undertaken. If they find evidence in the course of that investigation which would suggest fraud, they will invite the claimant to an interview under caution (IUC) so that they can present the evidence to the claimant and ask the claimant to explain it.

 

When considering whether a couple are living together as husband and wife/civil partners (LTAHAW/CP), they look at a range of factors, not just how often the suspected partner stays over. One of the things that they will look at is a financial link.

 

The evidence that they will have could be in the form of the payments he made for some of your bills from his account. Or they may have surveillance of him coming and going from your home. These things are indicators that there is an undisclosed partner.

 

However you say:

He moved into work accommodation and paid his rent, bills and registered to vote etc etc. This can obviously be proven.
This is a positive thing for you. You have evidence that he had a life elsewhere, paid rent elsewhere, paid bills elsewhere, registered to vote elsewhere. Although they may have evidence that he paid your bills, you have evidence which shows that he also paid his own. Why would anyone pay their own set of bills and rent if they were living with someone else as a couple?

 

You also say that the sum he paid toward your bills worked out about the same as you would receive in monetary value if he paid support via the CSA - that's a good explanation. It shows that you looked into it and calculated a reasonable sum for support, which you both agreed on and the fact that you only have a POCA and he had an account with a D/D facility, it made sense for him to pay the bills rather than give you the funds direct. Did you also change the name on the records of these bills into your own? i.e you were responsible for the bill but the funds came out of his account? If so, this is stronger evidence. If not, they will want to know why you did not change the name on the records. What child support is to be spent on is not defined into items, it is paid for the benefit of the child(ren). The children benefited from gas, water, electric therefore there is nothing wrong in that.

 

His accommodation was a single room in works accommodation and due to the nature of his work it was not appropriate for kids to go there. He would come and visit the kids and take them out a few days a week.
That's a good explanation. However they may ask you to elaborate on why it was not appropriate, so be ready to answer that.

 

There is one thing in your post that I'm unclear on. Early on in the post, you refer to having a child (singular) together. Later on, you refer to 'daughters' in the plural. If you became pregnant with another child during your seperation, this may be another route of questioning that they may undertake.

 

It's sticky is he was responsible for your bills and paying them rather than you being responsible and him paying them. However because you have evidence of his life elsewhere, that will help you a great deal as you can show evidence of a life he had which was seperate to the life they are suggesting. We may be having a very different conversation if there was no evidence that he had his own life or bills to pay.

 

You can ask them to defer the interview whilst you seek legal advice. This would be useful if you want to perhaps speak to a solicitor for a free half hour consultation, which many of them offer. The advice they will be able to give you will be limited because they will not be able to obtain disclosure for one of these consultations thus will be unaware of the evidence they hold, but they may still be able to advise you on the information you have - that you have given here.

 

There is no obligation to attend the interview. I normally advise people to go and see what it is that they have, because you can also leave the interview at any time, or ask for it to be suspended to seek legal advice. You are also under no obligation to answer questions, you can respond 'no comment' but be aware that they can draw inferences from that.

 

Try and gather as much information as you can before the interview which proves your statements that he had a life elsewhere. If you are able to prove this early on, it could save you a long wait for a decision which they make on their own evidence entirely.

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

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I can prove he lived elsewhere.

 

What evidence could they have when ive been completely above board?

 

Any help, advice etc would be great.

 

Thanks

They have to prove your partner as lived with you and by the sound of it, it does seem that you are been investigated because of your ex paying the bills because thats how a lot of people get caught by having the bills in there names, specially sky, TV licence, bank accounts and such.

A lot of people still believe to this day that your ex can stay at your house for 3 days a week? this is not true as they are not allowed to stay for one night so never ever ever admit to him staying one night no matter how innocent it is.

Another thing, if your ex is paying your bills or giving you cash to pay the bills then you are by law suppose to tell the benefits office as they need to deduct it from your benefit so even if you say its "child maintenance" you are still suppose to tell them as any money you get for child maintenance they deduct it our of your benefits, if were you i would keep my mouth shut about receiving any kind of money or help paying bills as that would come under fraud? by law if your ex took you out for a meal you are suppose to inform the benefits office but obviously no one does as i'm just pointing out some points of law that they will question you about..!

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Child support is not deductible from benefit. It has been disregarded from all benefits since 12th April 2010. There was a disregard prior to that from 27th October 2009 for housing benefit and council tax benefit.

 

As this lady seperated from her partner in June 2010, any child support would be disregarded as income when calculating any benefit.

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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Again to everyone thanks for your responses so far. I'll defo stay with the forum as I can advise others in stuff sometime.

Erikapnp your response was very good and detailed so I'm guessing you have a lot of knowledge in this area.

In your opinion what will the outcome be? I've not hidden anything on this, everything I've said is fact

 

Thanks

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Possibly one thing that it could be is undeclared income, although you have explained in the forum that he paid the utility bills in lieu of a payment of maintenance and technically your benefits are paid to cover your utilities iygwim? It could be a LTAHAW investigation as well as undeclared income due to bill being paid by someone not being the main client receiving IS.

If you did become pregnant whilst claiming as a lone parent then you will automatically be investigated so it could also be that if that is a circumstance that happened to you during your claim.

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Thankyou, I'm even more worried now. I didn't think I did anything wrong.

He wasn't living with me at all. He lived elsewhere.

We decided he would have to pay maintenance so rather than go through CSA we were sensible and he paid the bills. I was at no financial benefit as he just paid what he would have paid anyway.

I haven't benefited by anything I've said and done and dwp and other agencies haven't lost money because of what I've said or done.

 

Potentially it's just a mistake by us in paying the bills rather than him giving me the cash to pay those same bills and I'm worried that I could have to pay everything back or even go to prison.

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Thankyou, I'm even more worried now. I didn't think I did anything wrong.

He wasn't living with me at all. He lived elsewhere.

We decided he would have to pay maintenance so rather than go through CSA we were sensible and he paid the bills. I was at no financial benefit as he just paid what he would have paid anyway.

I haven't benefited by anything I've said and done and dwp and other agencies haven't lost money because of what I've said or done.

 

Potentially it's just a mistake by us in paying the bills rather than him giving me the cash to pay those same bills and I'm worried that I could have to pay everything back or even go to prison.

It as to be proved that you have committed benefit fraud yet, if you stick by what you have been saying on here and dont allow them to bully or scare you into an admission then you will be ok but dont let them put words into your mouth as they are really good at doing that and also using scare tactics?

Just because you are on benefits it doesn't mean that you are on a curfew and your children's dad can only call round to see his kids between the hours of 7am till 7pm or that you cannot have visitors at any time day or night, you can have who you want in your house at any time you like but just remember that your ex cannot sleep at your house any time.?

If they have been watching you having your ex coming and going from your house at certain times like when someone would normally finish work and leave at a time when someone would start for work then it maybe a bit harder to prove that he as only been round to see the kids?

is the bills in his name?

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Staying at the house was very very rare. A couple of times in a year and he was on the sofa anyway. The bills were in his name as we never thought it was a problem as he paid the bills as child maintenance. He paid the same as what he would have had to give me through CSA.

The dwp even asked me if I would get child maintenance from him and I said yes we would sort it privately.

He also paid his rent and bills etc where he lived too and we can prove that easily.

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just remember that your ex cannot sleep at your house any time.?

 

Since when? A friend has not that long split up with her husband. Until he found somewhere to live, they had no choice but to live in the same house together. Yet, she is still a single parent.

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Staying at the house was very very rare. A couple of times in a year and he was on the sofa anyway. The bills were in his name as we never thought it was a problem as he paid the bills as child maintenance. He paid the same as what he would have had to give me through CSA.

The dwp even asked me if I would get child maintenance from him and I said yes we would sort it privately.

He also paid his rent and bills etc where he lived too and we can prove that easily.

 

What you have to explain is why is the bills in his name as the bills could have stayed in your name and he still could have paid the bills if that were a agreement regarding child maintenance and know one would be no wiser?

How did the bills end up in is name anyway?

At the end of every benefit form there is a part that says "change of circumstances" because he is your ex you will find it hard to prove that he as only stayed at your house a couple of times and it certainly doesn't matter where he slept, he could have slept in the bath for all they care, he still slept here but thats up to you if you want to admit to him sleeping, i wouldn't even mention it as you will be trying to explain as to why his name is on the bills.?

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Since when? A friend has not that long split up with her husband. Until he found somewhere to live, they had no choice but to live in the same house together. Yet, she is still a single parent.

 

people still to this day seem to think that its ok for your ex to sleep at your house? wrong.!! if you both are on benefits claiming from different addresses then you are breaking the law and obviously its the same if your on benefits and the other person is working.

The person claiming benefits for the house is claiming housing and council tax benefits and if anyone else moves in then you are suppose to inform the social and the council has the lodger as to pay rent and council tax also.

you want to tell your friend not to be saying anything about who lives there.?

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The bills were always in his name when we were together as his bank account was direct debit and I just had a post office account.

The maintenance agreement we sorted just kept it that way for a couple of reasons:

1. Didn't realise the bills could be in my name and still paid from his account.

2. Didn't think it would cause an issue at all

3. I didn't think much as I was all over the place when he walked out.

4. I thought it was keep it how it is or have to pay everything at shop paypoint facilities which I worried about forgetting and also bills are cheaper with direct debit.

 

Maybe it's a mistake but certainly not an intentional one and certainly not to defraud anyone. Whatever way it would have been done the benefit claim would have been the same in the end.

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The bills were always in his name when we were together as his bank account was direct debit and I just had a post office account.

The maintenance agreement we sorted just kept it that way for a couple of reasons:

1. Didn't realise the bills could be in my name and still paid from his account.

2. Didn't think it would cause an issue at all

3. I didn't think much as I was all over the place when he walked out.

4. I thought it was keep it how it is or have to pay everything at shop paypoint facilities which I worried about forgetting and also bills are cheaper with direct debit.

 

Maybe it's a mistake but certainly not an intentional one and certainly not to defraud anyone. Whatever way it would have been done the benefit claim would have been the same in the end.

 

You can pay any bill through anyone's bank account with there permission of course. Just explain what you have said on here but i would not tell them that he as slept at yours at any time but thats up to you because if you did it just makes them think he as been staying all the time and just might complicate things.?

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Oh... I really didn't know that at all. What do you think the outcome will be?

I've had no more benefit than I would have done. Just guess my lack of knowledge has confused the issue. Ive not defrauded anyone have I?

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Oh... I really didn't know that at all. What do you think the outcome will be?

I've had no more benefit than I would have done. Just guess my lack of knowledge has confused the issue. Ive not defrauded anyone have I?

IF..... and it is a IF, they will reckon up how much you may have had over you should have and then have to pay it back at so much a week but if it runs into thousands then it could be a court job? if your ex is a working man and as been living with you they go heaver on that because of the housing and council tax benefit they have been paying for you?

But remember, if they cant prove anything they will try and force you into a admission but if you haven't done nothing wrong then you dont admit anything no matter how much pressure they put you under?

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We don't advocate being anything other than upfront in an IUC on CAG, I'm afraid. If they ask you whether he stayed overnight, the best thing to do is be honest about it. I've seen them do this once too often and the claimant state that the suspected partner never stayed overnight, only for FIS to later to show surveillance evidence which suggests that the partner did stay overnight and ask the claimant to explain it. This is where claimants come unstuck and it makes them look like they are trying to hide something. If they think that a claimant is not being honest with them from the beginning, they will deal with any penalty far more harshly.

 

Staying overnight on occasion is not sufficient in itself to demonstrate that a couple are LTAHAW. As I intimated previously there are a variety of factors that are considered. Overnight stays is only one of those factors. Two people can legitimately live in the same house, without being members of the same household, even where there was once a partnership.

 

They are not allowed to use scare tactics in an IUC. If they do or if you otherwise feel intimidated, say so (for the benefit of the tape) and tell them that you wish to leave - then complain in writing about their conduct. Their role is an inquisitive one, so at times you may feel under pressure but they should not under any circumstances use scare tactics, such as threaten you with what will happen if you don't give them the answer they want - it's not an approach that they are allowed to use.

 

I can't say what I think the outcome would be, sadly as these things quite often depend on how the IUC itself goes. However as you have evidence that he had another life during that period as you can prove that he paid bills, rent and was on the electoral register elsewhere I'd say you have a much stronger case than if there was no evidence of this. Take as much evidence as you can with you. Bills for the period in question, his rental agreement, tell him he was on the electoral register for the other address. You can also take evidence of how you worked out the arrangement in lieu of child support, by presenting the calculations to them which show that the sums he paid in your bills is approximately how much he would have paid you in child support.

1. Didn't realise the bills could be in my name and still paid from his account.

2. Didn't think it would cause an issue at all

3. I didn't think much as I was all over the place when he walked out.

4. I thought it was keep it how it is or have to pay everything at shop paypoint facilities which I worried about forgetting and also bills are cheaper with direct debit.

 

If they ask, tell them all of that. You did not realise that you were doing anything wrong as you had seperated. You lived seperately but agreed to maintain a civil footing in your exchanges for the sake of your child(ren). You eventually reconciled at which point, you told the relevant offices that you had done so withiout hesitation, therefore you had no reason to think you had done anything but be above board.

 

You won't get a decision straight away. After the IUC, the tape and further evidence that they have gathered in the course of their investigation will go to a FIS decision maker. It will not be the same people who perform the IUC.

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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I haven't got any extra benefit payment through this.

 

I thought he would need to pay me £144 per month through CSA. Instead we worked the arrangement ourselves which resulted in him still paying me the same amount anyway.

 

Whether I would have got maintenance from him through CSA or whether we did what we did the benefit entitlement would have been exactly the same.

 

I haven't received a penny more benefit than I should have.

 

Will they really screw me over based on me trying to be sensible in regards to child maintenance?

 

Thanks

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