22 November 2019
Today sees the conclusion of a complex fraud case which was investigated by the enforcement team at Customer and Local Services.
Maria Teresa Viera, who is 63 years old, has been successfully prosecuted after withholding material information from the Government, which led to her fraudulently receiving more than £63,000 in benefit payments between 2011 and 2019. Ms Viera has already repaid £1,000 of the £63,000 she fraudulently claimed.
The court has sentenced Ms Viera to 18 months’ imprisonment and ordered her to repay the remaining amount within 12 months, with the penalty of an additional 12-month custodial sentence if the sum is not repaid in full.
The court also ordered Ms Viera to repay a separate sum of £1,500 in legal costs.
Director General of Customer and Local Services, Ian Burns, said: “Our officers work with claimants to make sure they have every opportunity to disclose any changes in their circumstances. I would urge any claimants who aren’t sure about where they stand to contact Customer and Local Services to discuss their position.”
Fraudulent claims can arise for several reasons, including when customers fail to declare their assets (such as property) or fail to declare their relationship status. Potentially fraudulent activity is investigated by officers at Customer and Local Services, who seek evidence from other jurisdictions where necessary.
Members of the public who believe an individual may be claiming fraudulently can share this information anonymously via the “Report a Benefit Thief” page
, or via the Fraud Hotline 0800 735 1111.