Benefits cheats warned after convictions

CHEATS were warned today that they would not prosper – and would be prosecuted if they claim benefits illegally.The move came after three more cases of benefit fraud uncovered by the efforts of Suffolk Coastal's detection team were dealt with by Ipswich magistrates.

CHEATS were warned today that they would not prosper – and would be prosecuted if they claim benefits illegally.

The move came after three more cases of benefit fraud uncovered by the efforts of Suffolk Coastal's detection team were dealt with by Ipswich magistrates.

Chris Slemmings, cabinet member for housing and benefits, said the council was doing all it could to track down those abusing the system.

"This council encourages residents to claim all those benefits to which they are entitled, but we are also firmly committed to investigating anyone who is trying to cheat the system and will take whatever action is appropriate against suspected cheats," he said.

"These three cases were all breaches of the Social Security Administration Act of 1992, and we will continue to use the law fairly but firmly to punish any abuses that come to light.

"We are working closely with other government departments and we are becoming more successful in detecting frauds, and the courts are backing up our efforts."

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George Nursey, formerly of Woolnough Road, Woodbridge, was given a 50 hours' community punishment order and ordered to pay £50 legal costs after pleading guilty to failing to report a change in his circumstances affecting his entitlement to housing and council tax benefits.

Nursey was discovered to have been working for six months without having told benefit staff at the council about his work.

A curfew order for ten weeks from 6pm to midnight, enforced with an electronic tag, was imposed by the magistrates on Joanne Elam, of Reedland Way, Felixstowe, who pleaded guilty to making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining benefit.

She pleaded guilty to failing to declare all the income she was receiving.

The prosecution was brought by Suffolk Coastal and the Department for Work and Pensions because her false statements led to an overpayment of income support as well as housing and council tax benefits.

The magistrates also sentenced Dawn Wiles, formerly of Fairfield Crescent, Framlingham, but now of Shetland Close, Ipswich, who was found guilty at an earlier hearing of making a false declaration to obtain benefits.

Wiles stated in her housing benefit form that she was living in Framlingham when she was in fact living in Ipswich.

The court ordered her to do 100 hours' community service and pay £100 towards the prosecution costs.

It is important that people receiving benefits should notify the council on 01394 444674 if there is a change in their circumstances – it can sometimes mean they receive more rather than less benefit.

There is also a Fraud Hotline that residents can call confidentially and report suspected benefit frauds to the council on 01394 444444, available 24 hours a day, or by email to fraud.investigation@suffolkcoastal.gov.uk

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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