A man fraudulently claimed benefits, despite having tens of thousands of pounds stashed away in bank accounts, until he was caught and prosecuted by Cheshire East Council.
Patrick Bird, 69, who said he was a single person on a low income, began claiming in November 2009 and received a total of £19,885.79.
But investigators from the Council’s benefit fraud team carried out a data matching exercise and found that he had more than £30,000 hidden in bank accounts that he had not declared. As a result he was not entitled to any help with his rent or Council Tax.
Bird, of Davenport Avenue, Nantwich, admitted two charges of making false representations in order to obtain Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Council Tax Support when he appeared before South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court in Crewe on October 20.
The court was told that he had repaid the money in full.
In sentencing, magistrates said it was a significant offence, aggravated by the length of time it had gone on for. They ordered him to pay a £400 fine and prosecution costs of £300, along with a £40 victim surcharge.
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member for finance, said: “This case shows that we will pro-actively investigate to prevent fraudsters from cheating the system and taking money away from people who really need help.”
Residents can report people they suspect of benefit fraud by calling free on the confidential fraud hotline number 0800 389 2787. There is no need to give a name and calls are treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, suspected fraud can be reported through the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk