Fraudster who failed to declare inheritance prosecuted

by Sarah Ashcroft

A man from Rugby who failed to declare his £25,000 inheritance has been convicted of benefit fraud, for falsely claiming Housing Benefit, JobSeekers Allowance and Council Tax Benefit for five years.

Ian Reynolds, of Biart Place, claimed over £24,000 in benefits between May 2005 and October 2010, despite being left money by his mother and father in 2005.

He was ordered to pay £200 in court costs and received 200 hours of community service, as well as receiving a 12 month supervision order.

Investigators at Rugby Borough Council discovered the fraud during a data matching exercise and Mr Reynolds - who alleged he was claiming benefits because he was unemployed - was eventually cautioned by the Department for Work and Pensions in October 2010.

The case will underline the need to ensure appropriate changes are made to benefits and tax arrangements when money is left by a loved one's last will and testament.

Mr Reynolds' total claim was nearly equivalent to the amount he had been left by his parents. He also claimed he was aware that declaring savings would have affected his benefit entitlement.

The Department for Work and Pensions launched a campaign highlighting the legal implications of benefit fraud following the prosecution, highlighting that 52,000 prosecutions, sanctions and cautions for breaches to the law were made during 2010 for a range of fraud offences.

Work and pensions secretary John Hutton explained: "Benefit fraud is theft, and we are committed to catching benefit thieves and bringing the toughest penalties against those who commit this crime - no ifs, no buts.

"The public are fed up with benefit thieves stealing money intended for society's most vulnerable. There are no excuses for taking money that isn't yours."

Those who fail to declare inheritance and continue to claim could find themselves subject to the exercise of new investigative powers by investigators, including the ability to check bank accounts and household bills.

Published on: January 3, 2012

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