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Interview with Counter Benefit Fraud Team (No mention of fraud or IUC in letter)

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Scenario: Mrs AA who is in her late fifties has been claiming CT benefit for the past three years and declaring that only herself and her 24 year old daughter are living there, her income is circa £81 per week and her daughters income was £25p/w at the time. She only claims a widows benefit and as she is generally housebound as uncapable going far distances alone, she does not work or go to the job centre to claim her JSA. Mrs AA has limited english speaking, reading and writing capability due to being brought up in a non english speaking envirnoment and has mainly depended on her children to interpret and help her with her claim, primarily her daughters.

 

The daughter moved out for approx 14 months from Feb 2011 and Apr 2012 during which time in Sept 2011 She started another job £400 p/c/m on average and that has been her income since. Mrs AA did not notify the council of the changes i.e. daughter leaving and daughter returning with a different income.

 

Recently as October 2012 Mrs AA recieves a letter from the Birmingham City Council Counter Benefit Fraud Team or FINCBFT inviting her to an interview with one of the auditors:

 

"We are in receipt of information that indicates that the details we hold in relation to your benefit claim may be incorrect. As a result, we would like to interview you regarding this matter.... etc etc .... If you are unable to speak or read English please bring along someone who can interpret for you...... etc etc..... If you normally wear reading glasses, could you please bring them with you to the interview as you may be asked to view documents..... etc etc"

 

PLEASE NOTE: there is no mention of fraud within the body of the letter nor is there any mention of the interview being conducted under caution.

 

I am another daughter of Mrs AA and I have been living away from the address in question for some time now but have had some bank accounts and some credit cards under this address and I generally help my mother with her benefit claims (along with another one of my sisters who occasionally helps out too).

 

I called the auditor on behalf of Mrs AA saying she can come but I'll have to bring her due to Mrs AA not being able to travel alone nor being able to speak English, auditor said fine but then hesitated and said not anyone directly involved with the claim or anyone who has helped her with the claim. I said fine, I helped her quite some time ago and she replied "ok, we'll see"

 

I took my mother at the appointed time and the auditor came down to meet us in reception and she started off (in front of all other waiting public) "I need to interview Mrs AA, I understand she can't speak English", I replied "Yes, I'm here to interpret", Auditor says "you are connected to the case (I think she said this), so it can't be you" quickly followed by "I need to interview the person responsbile for filing the claim, was that yourself?", Panic took over so I mentioned that it was my other sister, auditor took details down of other sister at which point I said we both had equal contributions, so auditor took my details down too (both us sisters live in the same house) and the auditor later said "I'll be wanting to interview your other sister (and also dropped in "or whoever filed the benefit claim")". The tone of voice was different (to when we spoke on the phone) as if firm and strict, lacking pleasantness or tact, courtesy and as if her judgement passed already. so now a letter is pending to be received by my sister living at the our address.

 

At times I feel this is a trap, the way the auditor worded the letter (standard no doubt) and the way the auditor spoke on the phone and the way she spoke to us in front of the public, she has confused the hell out of "who should/can attend or who shouldnt" in two comms encounters... because it is I who helped her with the claim in the end, can I now attend although I was previously told I couldn't?

 

Anyway even more curious to know what info they have which goes against the claim and confused to why Mrs AA hasnt had a notification yet saying her benefit has stopped pending investigation. Do I have the right to request what info they have before hand? What happens next, what are the options, what is the best one to proceed with?

 

Although the letter is vague, I don't think it would be wise for Mrs AA to attend the interview until it has been made clear whether the interview is a IUC type or not, but any way of finding out what info they have before going in blind? if it is a IUC a legal aid rep will be needed but it hasnt been confirmed yet and im not sure of the process within the birmingham city council.

 

Is it worth contacting the local MP about this as it potentially can explode to something unexpected / undesired or it could be wrapped up in five minutes??? if it could be wrapped up in five minutes why has it ended up in the CBFT department, hence it must be serious but wheres the IUC letter, on the internet / forums there are a lot of mentions of this letter but not of the one Mrs AA received...... somethings got to be different.

 

Aware that these new counter benefit teams emerged around oct 2010 around the UK since the election of the coalition government to crack down on benefit fraud as part of its new budget and it looks like auditors have targets to meet and are using a whatever means necessary? Also aware the current benefit system ends in April 2013 where a new system comes in which reduces the likely hood of some people claiming where they were able to before...

 

Your opinions and advice will be deeply appreciated.

Edited by k_81

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Scenario/situation: Mrs GW who is in her late fifties has been claiming CT benefit for the past three years and declaring that only herself and her 24 year old daughter are living there, her income is circa £81 per week and her daughters income was £25p/w. She only claims a widows benefit and as she is generally housebound as uncapable going far distances alone, she does not work or go to the job centre to claim her JSA. Mrs GW has limited english speaking, reading and writing capability due to being brought up in a non english speaking envirnoment and has mainly depended on her children to interpret and help her with her claim, primarily her daughters.

 

Recently as October 2012 Mrs GW recieves a letter from the Birmingham City Council Counter Benefit Fraud Team or FINCBFT inviting her to an interview with one of the auditors:

 

"We are in receipt of information that indicates that the details we hold in relation to your benefit claim may be incorrect. As a result, we would like to interview you regarding this matter.... etc etc .... If you are unable to speak or read English please bring along someone who can interpret for you...... etc etc..... If you normally wear reading glasses, could you please bring them with you to the interview as you may be asked to view documents..... etc etc"

 

PLEASE NOTE: there is no mention of fraud within the body of the letter nor is there any mention of the interview being conducted under caution.

 

I am another daughter of Mrs GW and I have been living away from the address in question for some time now but have had some bank accounts and some credit cards under this address and I generally help my mother with her benefit claims (along with another one of my sisters who occasionally helps out too). its possible that they came accross some verification from banks / credit checks whish show I have accounts registered at my mothers address... is this enough though to validate I live at my mothers address when I don't? I have various correspondence sent there as I end up checking up on my mum anyway.

 

I called the auditor on behalf of Mrs GW saying my mother can come but I'll have to bring her due to Mrs GW not being able to travel alone nor being able to speak English, auditor said fine but then hesitated and said not anyone directly involved with the claim or anyone who has helped her with the claim. I said fine, I helped her quite some time ago and she replied "ok, we'll see"

 

I took my mother at the appointed time and the auditor came down to meet us in reception and she started off (in front of all other waiting public) "I need to interview Mrs GW, I understand she can't speak English", I replied "Yes, I'm here to interpret", Auditor says "you are directly connected to the case (I think she said this), so it can't be you" quickly followed by "I need to interview the person responsbile for filing the claim, was that yourself?", Panic took over so I mentioned that it was my other sister, auditor took details down of other sister at which point I said we both had equal contributions, so auditor took my details down too (both us sisters live in the same house) and the auditor later said "I'll be wanting to interview your other sister (and also dropped in "or whoever filed the benefit claim")". The tone of voice was different (to when we spoke on the phone) as if firm and strict, lacking pleasantness or tact, courtesy and as if her judgement passed already. so now a letter is pending to be received by my sister living at the our address.

 

At times I feel this is a trap, the way the auditor worded the letter (standard no doubt) and the way the auditor spoke on the phone and the way she spoke to us in front of the public, she has confused the hell out of "who should/can attend or who shouldnt" in two comms encounters... because it is I who helped her with the claim in the end, can I now attend although I was previously told I couldn't?

 

Anyway even more curious to know what info they have which goes against the claim and confused to why Mrs GW hasnt had a notification yet saying her benefit has stopped pending investigation. Do I have the right to request what info they have before hand? What happens next, what are the options, what is the best one to proceed with?

 

Although the letter is vague, I don't think it would be wise for Mrs GW to attend the interview until it has been made clear whether the interview is a IUC type or not, but any way of finding out what info they have before going in blind? if it is a IUC a legal aid rep will be needed but it hasnt been confirmed yet and im not sure of the process within the birmingham city council.

 

Is it worth contacting the local MP about this as it potentially can explode to something unexpected / undesired or it could be wrapped up in five minutes??? if it could be wrapped up in five minutes why has it ended up in the CBFT department, hence it must be serious but wheres the IUC letter, on the internet / forums there are a lot of mentions of this letter but not of the one Mrs GW received...... somethings got to be different.

 

Aware that these new counter benefit teams emerged around oct 2010 around the UK since the election of the coalition government to crack down on benefit fraud as part of its new budget and it looks like auditors have targets to meet and are using a whatever means necessary? Also aware the current benefit system ends in April 2013 where a new system comes in which reduces the likely hood of some people claiming where they were able to before...

 

Your opinions and advice will be deeply appreciated as I think they're trying to build up a case somehow.

Edited by k_81

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the councils in my area all advise in the interview letter if it is to be a taped IUC

 

you can ask birmingham cc if they are planning to do a taped IUC, they will disclose this information

 

it is unlikely that they will disclose details of any evidence they have to you in advance, however if your mother does take a solicitor with her, the interviewer will disclose details of the suspicion/allegation prior to the interview

 

to the best of your knowledge, are there any discrepancies in the award, the most common types of discrepancy for CTB awards are: -

 

  1. income
  2. capital
  3. occupants
  4. ownership of property


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have you got proof that you do not reside at the premises? for instance, council tax, phone, car insurance, anything official that shows a different address? if this is what they are looking for....

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Hello, thanks for the replies.

 

I can confirm that it is myself being called in for an interview now, attached with the letter is a leaflet about IUC, so no doubt it is a IUC.

 

I have various correspondence sent to my mothers address, such as bank statements, bills and tax code notifications from HMRC etc. as I used to live there pre 2006 and I did not change addresses for bank accounts as I do regurlarly visit my mother (but I don't stay over).

 

Despite the above, I also have correspondance sent to where I'm living now (my sisters house) e.g. council tax correspondance for a different property altogether that I own rented out to someone else.

 

I am considering consulting a solicitor to see if they can get any info before hand before I go to the interview because the impression I'm getting is that some form of unwelcoming interrogation will take place. Solicitor at this point will be costly and I don't think I'll qualify for legal aid.

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personally if you can prove you arent living there, and you know there are no problems with the claim, then i wouldnt worry too much about it....if there are problems with claim then being upfront is obviously the best way forward

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