Benefit Fraud

Fraud is an act of deception of a personal gain. The legislation surrounding fraud in Scotland can be found here. There are many types of fraud, including benefit fraud, mortgage fraud and many others. 

FAQ Benefit Fraud

A: Benefit fraud is a criminal offence involving failing to report change in circumstances or being dishonest in order to receive benefits. Usually this is as a result of failing to declare all information or giving false information. It must be shown your actions were deliberate in order for you to be prosecuted. In cases where you receive benefits without declaring savings the criminal offence may be failure to declare savings covered by the Social Security Administration Act 1992. If prosecuted you may have to repay any benefits overpaid. Custodial sentences are generally only targeted by the prosecution if the defrauded sum exceeds £13000. We have managed to fight cases with higher amounts than this and helped people avoid a prison sentence.
A: If you have been asked to attend an interview then the DWP will have found a discrepancy with your benefits and/or bank account.They will want to know whether you deliberately misled them and whether you did this in the knowledge that you would receive more benefits or keep existing benefits. They may have been given information suggesting you are working or that your circumstances have changed meaning you are no longer entitled to benefits. The interview should be treated in much the same way as a police interview, although it will be carried out by Fraud Investigators as opposed to the police. If you are required to attend such an interview then contact our firm without delay as we can attend this interview with you to offer you representation and advice.
A: After you have been investigated, you may be subject to prosecution, and the matter may be reported to the Procurator Fiscal. The case will be referred to the Procurator Fiscal if:
  • The overpayment is £5000 or more
  • You have previously been convicted of benefit fraud
A number of factors determine whether the Procurator Fiscal considers a prosecution. Likelihood of a successful prosecution, the amount of overpayment and the manner in which you defrauded the state, for example, forging documents would likely lead to prosecution. Your age, health and personal circumstances will also be considered.
A: Contact our fraud solicitors team immediately. Our solicitors have vast experience representing those accused of benefit fraud and have a great track record of avoiding custodial sentences. Cases of benefit fraud can be difficult to prove so pleading guilty to ‘get it out of the way’ is not always a good idea. The Procurator Fiscal often reduces the sum of the fraud significantly during negotiations. You must look at whether you would have been entitled to any benefits at all had you disclosed your full circumstances to the DWP. This amount can be offset against the figure they say you have not paid. The prosecution have to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that a person received state benefit in the knowledge they were not entitled to it. The most common defence is that the person was unaware they were receiving benefits they were not entitled to. Legal aid will ordinarily be available in benefits fraud cases. We can carry out a free case evaluation at your first appointment and complete legal aid papers with you.
A: Prison sentences are the exception not the rule, usually a financial penalty or community service is the punishment. The sentence largely depends on the total overpayment. £2500 - £5000: If the sum is closer to £2500 a non-custodial sentence or fine may be considered. £5000 - £20,000: If the sum is closer to £5000 it has been held by the court that community work is sufficient. Closer to £20,000 and a ‘significant custodial sentence’ may be imposed. Over £20,000: A custodial sentence up to 7 years could be considered. If this fraud is organised and involves multiple participants, each member could receive up to 2 years imprisonment. Please note, these are just guidelines, each case is considered on its own merits with its unique factors taken into account when sentencing. Exceptional circumstances may be considered by a judge leading to a lesser sentence.
If convicted of benefit fraud your benefits may be reduced or stopped. However, this can only affect certain benefits known as ‘sanctionable benefits’. Benefits which cannot be stopped or reduced include:
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Payment
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Christmas Bonus
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Graduated Retirement Benefit
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Constant Attendance Allowance (where a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Industrial Injuries Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance (where a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • State Pension
  • Social Fund Payments
  • War Pension Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

How is fraud committed?

Fraud can take many forms and involves deceptively taking property or money from a person with the owner’s consent.

Fraud occurs when a person makes a pretence that they know to be false with the intention of deceiving the victim into acting in a manner in which they would not otherwise have acted, for example, part with valuables as a result.

Fraud allegations can be very complex, and the evidence can be very voluminous and can date back many years. Our solicitors have great experience in the field of Fraud and have been involved in some of Scotland’s most lengthy and complex cases.

There are many different types of Fraud, and some are very complex.   Often the evidence to be considered dates back many years.

What should you do if accused of Benefit Fraud?

If you have been accused of benefit fraud, it is important to contact us straight away, and our dedicated team of lawyers will jump into action and assist you in achieving the best possible result. In cases of fraud, there is very often a great deal of work to be done by lawyers which include the gathering of information stretching back many years, such as bank records and other financial information. Our lawyers pride themselves on their meticulous preparation of such cases and attention to detail.

From the very first discussion with Matthew I was put at ease. He was very professional at all times. I was delighted at the successful outcome. Excellent work.

Alistair Crerar