12 July 2011
A fraud awareness campaign launched by the Social Security Department has resulted in more than 250 contacts from members of the public and enabled the department to identify £400,000 of fraud in 2011.
The “Benefit Thieves – Let’s Stop Them” campaign was launched in March this year. Islanders have provided information via the hotline (0800 735 1111) and online.
In the Royal Court on Friday 1 July, an Income Support claimant was prosecuted for failing to notify the department of the fact her partner had moved in with her. This led to a large overpayment of more than £18,000 which the claimant was not entitled to. The person in question was found guilty and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years and has to pay back the amount overpaid.
Social Security Minister, Deputy Ian Gorst said: "By the courts handing down a sentence of this severity, it makes clear to the general public that benefit fraud is not tolerated and that if found the department will take steps to ensure that the perpetrator is made to account for their actions. This recent court case also helps highlight the legal responsibility claimants have to notify us of any changes to their circumstances. By doing this they ensure that any changes to any benefit payments are made as swiftly as possible and therefore overpayments are minimised.
"I would like to thank the public for taking the time to report their concerns and help reduce benefit fraud. Unfortunately we are unable to provide any specific updates on ongoing investigations that they may have provided information on as this may prejudice any investigation and subsequent prosecution."