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Gem86

father - benefit fraud - wil he end up in prison?

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Hi all, I'm new here so forgive me if I don't have the right forum area,

I did try to look around for the appropriate one. It's also long and maybe complicated.

 

this is on behalf of my father.

 

He is in trouble with our local council for benefit fraud of £12k,

 

I know this is not looked upon with much sympathy but let me explain.

 

Years ago in the 80's before we moved to where we are now and when I was a baby

my dad had a back injury at work and from then on could no longer work due to this injury which has gotten worse over time.

 

He claimed a benefit (forgive me I don't remember the name) and at the time he was advised by the person that

"he did not need to worry about declaring it because it would go on record"

My father believed this man and then when we moved here from Watford, claimed other benefits.

 

Coming to this year, my dad's health is much worse, he is in his 60's, has diabetes which has ruined his legs,

his back has slipped disks and has a hiatus hernia, plus depression (although not diagnosed by a doctor)

due to other awful family events such as my mother dying in 2010.

 

I also believe he may have some mental issues but again, won't go to any "quacks" because his common sense and confusion has gotten worse over the years.

 

He claims housing, council tax and is on disability (I receive carer's and income support to top that up so I am a paid carer for him)

and received a pension along with the one he was getting for some years.

 

Admittedly we were all led to believe that we were alright because of the advise that dad was given and we just assumed they knew all about it.

 

when dad would fill out forms he would not mention the 80's benefit he was still getting,

I think the confusion came when he didn't realize it was an early pension, and I didn't know how to system worked, I just believed what my dad believed.

 

The council can only go back to 2000, dad was interviewed under caution in September this year, which was a shock as we did not expect it.

 

Dad did not know he had done anything wrong, he realized he infact did and admitted so,

and then explained how he intended to pay every single penny back.

 

We had our housing stopped for a while but then was half reinstated so that the landlord could be paid (Something I'll get to in a moment)

 

We also got in contact with the Citizen's Advice.

 

Dad then gets a letter from the council after some back and forth with an agreed price of how much to pay back each month a

nd is stated in the letter as long as the payments are kept up and on time they will not proceed further, which was a great relief. And would be paid off by July next year.

 

Clearly we were mistaken, we then get a huge amount of paperwork from the council, with a letter of 8 summons to court for the 7th of December.

 

When we saw this we simply fell apart, we thought that as long as we paid it all back that Dad would not go to prison,

and although it only says prison is one of the punishments, that it could just be more money that needs to be paid back as a charge,

 

myself and my father are terrified that he will go to prison for this and he simply will not last,

as I have explained his mental state and physical state will not cope.

 

Right now personally my mental state is taking a beating, I am not eating or sleeping right, this weekend has been a nightmare.

 

My Dad is going to phone the council a little later to get a clearer picture of what they mean by this, and then also phone Citizen's Advice again.

 

As stated above he intends on paying everything back, and we're just confused about the letter because we thought we arranged to pay everything back without any threats of prison.

 

Dad now knows that what he did was wrong albeit a mistake due to listening to bad advice years ago, and clearly not having much knowledge on how the system works.

 

For my whole life we have never been rich, we have always been struggling with payments of bills so I can tell you that even now we are not coping very well especially after this.

 

My brother who still lives with us managed to get a job (which we did declare) and it is myself and him that are having to help a great deal with the money.

 

Going back to our landlord,

when our housing was reinstated the council didn't tell us and nor did our landlord so when we were paying all of the rent which was a stressful situation,

turns out our landlord was also claiming the housing and didn't bother to tell us , so we were paying him the full amount of rent when we didn't need to.

 

So we've stopped that, although the landlord has not gotten back to us about that situation...:mad2:

 

But I just won't know what to do if my dad goes to prison, I am terrified.

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Hello and welcome to CAG. I'm sorry to hear about all your Dad's problems.

 

From what I've seen, very few benefit cases end up with prison. I hope the experts will see your thread later and make suggestions for you, but I'm wondering if you should get legal advice now from a specialist. CAB should have contacts.

 

Please bear with us until the people in the know are able to get here.

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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With regards to your rent situation, Im sure I am right when I say this, but you need to contact the housing benefit and explain to them that you had been paying your rent the same time as they were paying the landlord.

Your Landlord should of informed HB was being paid and visa versa.

Your Landlord could well be in a lot of trouble for doing this.

 

I would have a word with your MP with regards to what has happened, they maybe able to help you.

 

Im sorry I couldnt offer much help, but others who are very diverse in this subject will be along soon.

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I also believe he may have some mental issues but again, won't go to any "quacks" because his common sense and confusion has gotten worse over the years..

 

You also should try and source a solicitor experienced in social security law/Benefit Fraud cases. I recommend checking yell for all the solicitors in your area, and emailing the criminal law specialists asking specifically if they have experience in Benefit Fraud/Social Security Law. I don't know if your father will qualify for legal aid, but it doesn't hurt to speak to the lawyers to see what the situation is. With the court date so close, you should be thinking of mitigation.

 

You allude to the fact that your Dad may have psychiatric problems other than depression (and may even hint and something by talking about 'confusion'). It is imperative that you seek medical attention for this for two reasons: if he is becoming confused, depending on the cause, there is medication that can slow the onset of confusion; also, it is something that can be mentioned to the court. But you need to get a diagnosis (preferably from a referral to Old Age Psychiatry; your GP is the gatekeeper for that referral), not just to be mentioned in court, but for your father's well being.

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Oh, one more post and then I will shut up, in regards to the confusion. Assuming your father doesn't have a chest infection or a urinary tract infection (you suggest a chronic confusion) get the GP to check your father's meds (specifically his painkillers -- diskitis may suggest medication over and above paracetamol and non-steroidals) and maybe have the diabetic nurse review his glycaemic contro/medication regime -- the confusion could be down to hypoying on insulin.

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Hi there, well I think the confusion could be attributed to stress and depression and he does tend to have mood swings (although never violent) it's just as a family we've been through so much, not including his turbulant childhood. But I have tried to tell him to see a Doctor about it, he doesn't even like seeing the nurse on a regular basis and gets out of it anyway he knows how, so it can be difficult.

 

Anyway, not much news yet, phoned C.A.B and the woman on the other end said the court proceedings could be to do with a separate council tax benefit as opposed to council tax (which was what the letter was about agreeing to pay it back without hassle) this has confused us even more! She has to keep going and talking to her superior and phoning back. We're also going to phone the council, which Dad was scared to do but I explained it has to be done. He's pretty bad when it comes to confrontation =(

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So Dad tried to phone the council but the particular department had shut at around 4pm so we will try again in the morning. Meanwhile CAB haven't been hugely helpful, they never rang back after the first few talks and all that was was she wanted to know what the whole wodge of paperwork was (proof/evidence basically, reems of paper detailing the different situations where dad wrote down things he should not have etc...) I've looked on Yell.com, and found a law firm that deals with fraud and they take legal aid. When this all first started CAB had put us on to [Firm 1] solicitors they said they took legal aid, when Dad rang them they said they don't do that anymore so that was unhelpful, but I've come across [Firm 2] who seem to allow that.

 

I've been doing the worst thing for my mental state, reading up other people's horror stories on here involving Benefit Fraud and them going to prison for even less then what Dad owes, I feel terrible =(

Edited by antone
Removed company names

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I've been doing the worst thing for my mental state, reading up other people's horror stories on here involving Benefit Fraud and them going to prison for even less then what Dad owes, I feel terrible =(

 

It's maybe best to stay off the other stories, as your mind will gravitate towards the worst case scenario. I know it's difficult though. It is a lot of money you are talking about, but presumably it isn't a first offence and your father has health issues; these are things to be taken into consideration for mitigation. Your law firm will hopefully also be able to keep you right on the probabilities for sentencing. Also, I reiterate that you should get your Dad back to the GP for his mental health.

 

Different people have had different experiences with CAB -- my local CAB are pretty good (and do a lot with limited resources) but I was even more impressed by the local Welfare Rights group, who are battle-hardened pros with this sort of thing. People have had a varying experience with both, but if you have them in your area it might be worth a chat.

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It's maybe best to stay off the other stories, as your mind will gravitate towards the worst case scenario. I know it's difficult though. It is a lot of money you are talking about, but presumably it isn't a first offence and your father has health issues; these are things to be taken into consideration for mitigation. Your law firm will hopefully also be able to keep you right on the probabilities for sentencing. Also, I reiterate that you should get your Dad back to the GP for his mental health.

 

Different people have had different experiences with CAB -- my local CAB are pretty good (and do a lot with limited resources) but I was even more impressed by the local Welfare Rights group, who are battle-hardened pros with this sort of thing. People have had a varying experience with both, but if you have them in your area it might be worth a chat.

 

Yes, the welfare rights I worked at was considered very highly, and the local CAB wouldn't touch complex benefits matters, but the CAB a few towns over in the next county were very experienced and dealt with complex cases. It all depends where you are.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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well, thanks to a friend of mine, who contacted a local solicitor (I was having no luck and she said she'd help, managed to find something in 2 minutes!) they do legal aid and deal with fraud cases and phoned back the same evening, didn't even have a chance to get home and tell dad they just rang him out of the blue lol

 

They're coming by on Monday to help, this has made me very happy because we have help now, someone to represent us who knows their stuff. We're not out of the woods yet but I am relieved that we have help now =)

 

I have talked to Dad about his Depression, he says he wants to get this over with then deal with it, which I suppose I have to respect, but it is something we will be dealing with ASAP.

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This is indeed good news, please keep us informed, the help and information you receive may help others in your fathers situation.

 

Good luck and stay strong. :)

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This is indeed good news, please keep us informed, the help and information you receive may help others in your fathers situation.

 

Good luck and stay strong. :)

 

I will keep you guys posted and thank you for the advice so far =)

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I will keep you guys posted and thank you for the advice so far =)
I still think your father should go and see the doctor and not after this is dealt with. The doctor is there to help and will not compound matters, although I understand a diagnosis which he might be scared of might compound things. The thing is if this does go to court this could be a mitigating factor, if not I know magistrates, crown court judge would take this into account on suitability for sentencing.

 

More important of all your fathers health is paramount here and this situation could make him worse before it is over as itt is a long drawn out process and could have a adverse effect on him, whereas if he is managing it with you and your doctor he would be in a better place

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gem86

 

you have stated that your father has received a letter with 8 summonses on?

 

  • are the summonses in relation to council tax debts?

or

 

  • are they in relation to social security fraud offences?

thanks

 

id


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id6052 makes an excellent point. I did think the wheels of the machine were turning pretty fast, from your accoiunt.

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From what I understand it, it's council tax and housing. But we've already arranged with the council tax people to pay them back a certain amount each month, which we've already started, we made the first payment a couple of days ago.

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Just to try and put your mind at rest i know of someone who got a suspended sentence for 50k of benefit fraud and someone else who got a suspended sentence for 25k of fraud against a company.

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Thank you - it's so hard though, my anxiety has sky rocketed I even thought I did something wrong, when my friend came over tonight and had a look at my paper work she said I was totally fine and haven't done anything wrong at all, it's just me overthinking things because of my father's troubles. I'm happy we now have a solicitor, but I'm still not eating or sleeping right. It's hard to tell your brain to shut up when you're so wound up and you just feel like crying all the time =(

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Just an update - we saw our solicitor and it seemed to go well. He said what everyone else I've spoken to has said - prison is unlikely but he doesn't want to commit to anything. But because of mitigating circumstances it is unlikely. I've heard the Judges where I'm from are quite fair.

 

He also said that the monthly repayments we previously agreed on are far too high and will try to get a lower amount, because it is hard to live off the rest of the money we have coming in.

 

All of the paperwork was taken and is being looked through, we will be expecting to hear from him soon before court, and on the day will be represented by someone.

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Thank you. It's only been in the past couple of days I've gotten my anxiety under control, it's still quite scary and I think on the day my nerves might get the better of me but I gotta stay strong for my Dad!

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Sorry I didn't reply about this, totally forgot!

 

Well it was a total waste of time, Dad came home and said he wasn't even seen, they were "too busy" to see him that day, he said everyone was running around trying to get other things done, including his solicitor, the judges and clerks were late to court too. It was a farce basically, so they gave Dad a bail slip and told him to come back on the 21st, absolute joke!

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