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Just discovered I have commited fraud and want to admit overpayment

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Believe it or not I have only just realised that I have commited benefit fraud a number of times over the previous 6 or 7 years and although there has been no evidence of an investigation (have not received correspondance) I would still like to return the money I owe in case there is an investigation. This will likely be a long story so apologies in advance.

 

I was signed off work legitimately with a "forever doctor note?" based on what I presume was a psychiatrist confirmation about 10 years ago. I think the official condition was drug induced psychosis where I suffered anxiety attacks, panic attacks, paranoia, depression brought on by the use of drugs. Aged 20 I quit all drugs (aside from a small number of relapses) and although I've been informed that this condition will stay with me for the rest of my life (in the form of less frequent "episodes") things have been getting gradually more bearable over the past decade.

 

The reason I think things have been getting better, and ironically enough also the reason for the overpayments, are because on occasions I have travelled abroad. At no point since I've been on whatever benefits I've been on was I aware that I couldn't go abroad. I have never worked since being signed off sick or commited any other offence it is just the going abroad that I have been overpayed for.

 

I have finally found what I want to do in life which is to become an Actuary. Over the past few years I have studied and passed various exams to work my way toward doing an Actuarial Science degree as soon as possible. It has been extremely difficult because I couldn't afford to attend any official teaching institutions meaning I have had to teach myself. I have successfully completed a full maths a-level as well as the first of a number of official actuarial exams. However...good qualifications aren't enough...to become an Actuary your integrity needs to be beyond reproach. No criminal record or anything and I am absolutely terrified now that everything I have worked so hard for over the past few years and all the dreams I've had of maybe, finally becoming a contributing member to society could be stripped away from me because of a stupid mistake.

 

Whether or not there has been an investigation means nothing to me now because I MUST pay back this money and admit what I've done. I have done some research online and will willingly admit my guilt even though it wasn't intentional and pay back the money with any excess fees as long as I don't get prosecuted because a criminal record destroys my life.

 

I don't know much about the benefits I have been on or am currently on because they're always changing the names and I've never paid much attention to my benefit issues but I can give a pretty good estimate of how much overpayment there has been and guess around £10,500. I've never travelled on a work visa, nor have I worked "under the table" it has only been either visa exempt or visitor visa status for all cases.

 

I have covered any additional monetary issues over the years with online poker and currently have about £2,000 in my bankroll which I will immediately pay to them but other than that I have literally nothing. My bank records will prove the poker as an income and that I haven't used benefit money to fund a gambling habit, it is also my only bank/savings account which will prove no other income or assets. I have already spoken to a friend about potentially starting work as a dishwasher when I return and can start to pay off the money with that and obviously I will immediately stop my benefits once employment is gained.

 

I have no idea now what to do now. Who do I contact? Who do I speak to? Are they going to accept this? Am I going to court or even worse prison if I admit this? I'm in a bit of a state at the moment and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Username123123

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So you're saying that you think you've been overpaid benefit by about £10,000, is that correct?

 

That's quite a lot but, and this is important, criminal fraud requires intent. You can't accidentally commit fraud.

 

Now, what should you do? First off, find a lawyer if you can. But in any case, you should contact the department that paid your benefits - probably the DWP or HMRC. Absent a lawyer, I don't think I can offer you more advice.


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So you're saying that you think you've been overpaid benefit by about £10,000, is that correct?

 

That's quite a lot but, and this is important, criminal fraud requires intent. You can't accidentally commit fraud.

 

Now, what should you do? First off, find a lawyer if you can. But in any case, you should contact the department that paid your benefits - probably the DWP or HMRC. Absent a lawyer, I don't think I can offer you more advice.

 

The overpayment is about £10,000. I thought getting a lawyer was like an admission of guilt? Sorry my head's in a spin, now it's not only the criminal record I'm worried about since I've just been continually reading stories online of people going to prison, I don't think I could handle it. What if they have been investigating me but haven't said anything and I filled out something wrong on a form at some point in the past. Do I contact the benefits people the moment of my arrival in UK first thing or the lawyer? There's a citizen's advice bureau near my Mum's could they offer any worthwhile advice?

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Getting a lawyer is not an admission of guilt.

I think that a lawyer might be useful because you could make a full statement to him and then ask him to present your position to the Department. This would make it more likely that they will consider what you have to say rather than just put you into procedure.

 

You would need a lawyer who is experienced in this area of law and who has good contacts within the Department


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Getting a lawyer is not an admission of guilt.

I think that a lawyer might be useful because you could make a full statement to him and then ask him to present your position to the Department. This would make it more likely that they will consider what you have to say rather than just put you into procedure.

 

You would need a lawyer who is experienced in this area of law and who has good contacts within the Department

 

Getting a lawyer seems reasonable considering I would have no clue how to tell my story without looking bad. Where can I search to find the lawyer you suggest with experience and who also has good contacts? I did a google search and found one firm whose website looked good so then I googled searched again to see how good this firm was and apparently the guy had been struck off and was sent to prison for fraud. Is there an impartial website with a list?

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It's a shame CAB are so hard to get to speak to as they give out lists of solicitors in your area & exactly what they specialise in!

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Ok thank you for your responses. I'm feeling a slightly better about this whole thing now (but not much) and have some degree of hope to resolve this. I wasn't claiming housing benefit or council tax benefit throughout this entire period and have definately never lied on any form I've filled out which I'm hoping should help a lot especially with me coming forward of my own free will even with there being no evidence of an investigation. Also I've never claimed for DLA or pretended to have any condition worse than my actual illness, I've never worked and claimed simultaneously and have no previous criminal record in anything at all. Although £10,500 is a hell of a lot of money and that 7 years is a hell of a long time, I'm hoping my complete honesty about the situation in both the past and present is enough to save me from my own naivety.

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Hello there.

 

We're not allowed to recommend law firms, but if you go to the Law Society website, there is a section where you can type in a postcode and find benefit specialists in the local area. Then as you say, you can check them out online.

 

My best, HB


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Hello honeybee thank you for the information. I am sort of guessing that you're not allowed to recommend the CAB either?

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Hello again.

 

Yes, we recommend the CAB. If you can get in touch with them, they may be able to advise you and they will have contacts with local law firms.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Sorry to bump the thread again but I have another question now about the amount of the overpayment. It says on their website that you can go abroad for 4 weeks as long as you notify the jobcentre. Does that mean 4 weeks worth of overpayment from each trip abroad isn't actually an overpayment or will it probably still count as overpayment because I hadn't informed them in the first place?

 

I haven't been overpaid for one really long absence but 6 short ones which would bring the overpayments down to about £8,000 instead of £10,500. I mean it's still a huge sum of money but with the £2,000 I have now that would bring it down to £6,000 over the 6 years.

 

I'm sure this sort of thing is what I will be discussing with the CAB or lawyers/solicitors but while I'm still stuck abroad for the next few days, biting my nails and unable to do anything I don't really know where else to ask.

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