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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

£20,000 Benefit Fraud Uncovered And Prosecuted

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3:43pm 24th April 2014
(Updated 12:28pm 25th April 2014)

A benefit fraud totalling almost £20,000 has been uncovered by City of York Council’s fraud experts Veritau, and York resident Muriel Hunter has been given a 12-month community order for 40 hours unpaid work and a compensation order of £500 by York Magistrates Court.

Muriel Hunter (aged 67) of Jute Road, York, claimed Housing and Council Tax Benefit, based on a low income since August 2007. An anonymous referral was received on the council’s Fraud hotline from a member of the public suggesting that Muriel Hunter had been working for years and neither this nor her earnings had been declared to the council. An investigation was conducted by Veritau, which investigate fraud on behalf of City of York Council.

The investigation discovered that Muriel Hunter had in fact been working for a number of years and had failed to declare this for benefit purposes. As a result, Muriel Hunter was overpaid £15,674.87 in Housing Benefit and £4,262.83 in Council Tax benefit by City of York Council, a total of £19,937.70.

On Thursday 17 April, Muriel Hunter pleaded guilty to all charges at York Magistrates Court and received a 12 month community order for 40 hours unpaid work and a compensation order of £500. Arrangements are also in place for Ms Hunter to repay the overpayment.

Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, said: “Criminal actions such as this lead to inaccurate perceptions about those who genuinely need to claim benefits due to ill health or when employment circumstances change.

“City of York Council will always prosecute fraudulent claims and take action against those who abuse the system. We’d like to thank the member of the public who brought this crime to our attention and encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the confidential fraud hotline on 01904 552935 or email fraud@york.gov.uk

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