Lying benefit fraudster fined more than £26,000
Published Thursday 31st May 12 in Council - news and information releases news
A fraudster is now paying tough penalties for claiming benefits while amassing secret savings worth more than £475,000.
At Basildon Crown Court on Wednesday 30th May, Alan Hardman, 58, of Crowstone Road, Westcliff, admitted five counts of benefit fraud.
He was given an eight month suspended sentence, a 50-hour community penalty, an electronic tag and will be subject to a 7pm to 7am curfew for two months.
Mr Hardman was also fined £26,025.10 - on top of the amount which he dishonestly obtained - ordered to pay legal costs of £6,977.65 and a £15 victim surcharge.
In addition Mr Hardman has already repaid both the Housing and Council Tax Benefit overpayment in full to the Authority.
He told Southend-on-Sea Borough Council he only received a minimal income from his Carer's Allowance for looking after his mother.
He said he was in financial trouble and needed help to pay rent for his South Essex Homes property.
As a result, he was given Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
However, investigators discovered he had kept quiet about his savings - which totalled more than £475,000 when he was interviewed under caution by the Council.
Between 2004 and April 2011, Mr. Hardman received £21,447.06 Housing Benefit and £4,578.04 Council Tax Benefit to which he was not entitled.
In mitigation, Mr Hardman explained that he ran an internet hobby involving music competitions but this had unexpectedly developed into a lucrative income.
He admitted lying to the Council when he pretended to be in financial difficulties.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Executive Councillor for Corporate Support Services, Councillor Andrew Moring said: "Although the Council is committed to paying benefits to those who are entitled, it also has a duty to protect the public purse and take action against people committing benefit fraud.
"It is an offence to commit benefit fraud and, as this case shows, repayment of benefit is not the only action that the Council may wish to take." If anyone has suspicions over a person entitlement to benefit they can call the Corporate Fraud Investigation Team direct on 01702 215254, or e-mail email@example.com
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