Benefits cheat blamed 'evil twin'



A benefit fraudster claiming his wife was his sister and a woman saying she needed the cash for satellite TV are examples of excuses benefit fraud investigators have heard over the last year.

One claimant - using a fake ID - said her skin colour had changed after a road accident, one man blamed his evil twin, while another claimed she was not in a relationship but just had a three-night stand resulting in three children over five years.

The excuses are revealed as the Government announces a new campaign starting this autumn to target benefit fraudsters - encouraging claimants to come clean about changes to their circumstances and urging the public to call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline.

The man from Worcester who tried to convince officials that his wife was his sister still did not stop pretending even when investigators held up their wedding certificate, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.
"That was a drunken mistake," he said, when proof of his marriage was presented to him.

A claimant in West Lothian tried to explain her reason for falsely claiming: "I needed the money to pay for TV in each of the five bedrooms, as the kids have ADHT, and I have to keep them in."

She failed to mention the children no longer lived with her.

In an identity fraud trial, the alleged fraudster from London claimed she was a white female depicted in photos even though her skin colour was black and suggesting her face had changed shape following a car crash.

A claimant from Glasgow told officials they had confused him with his "evil twin brother", but was found to have passports in his own name and in the identity of his "twin".

Both passports listed all his own children.

Protesting his innocence, he said: "You have me confused with my evil twin brother. He lives in Pakistan and visits the UK regularly.

"My brother has children born on the same dates with the same names."

In Liverpool, a claimant insisted that she did not have a relationship with a man who stayed most nights in a week.

When it was pointed out that they had three children together in a five-year period, she said: "We're all entitled to a one night stand aren't we?"

She was again reminded that there are three children.

She said: "Well a three-night stand then".

David Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, said: "Hardworking taxpayers lost an outrageous £1.2 billion in benefit fraud last year.

"Our investigators are stepping up and taking advantage of the latest technology so fraudsters can be identified, traced and caught.

"The minority of claimants attempting to siphon off benefit cash need to know our teams are cracking down on them and bare-faced lies are frankly transparent in the face of the evidence.

"Universal Credit will close the gaps in the welfare state that cynical benefit cheats try to take advantage of. The new benefit will reduce fraud by £200m a year when rolled out fully. "

Richard West, DWP head of fraud investigations, said: "We are used to fraudsters telling tall tales to hide their crimes.

"When faced with the evidence, most people hold their hands up and admit what they've done. But some people refuse to admit they have been caught stealing.

"Some people will keep on trying to lie as a way out - even to the point of ridiculousness. They usually just end up digging themselves deeper into a hole."

The Government campaign will target districts and streets of high suspected fraud with investigators' work backed up by local advertising and letters direct to claimants, aiming to catch benefit cheats.

Claimants ill be reminded to report all changes in their circumstances when they happen, and before the investigators turn their attention to their claim.

Teams are now going through claims to spot suspicious activity and double checking claims against records held inside and outside Government.

© 2013 Press Association

HMRC's biggest tax cheats of 2012

HMRC's biggest tax cheats of 2012