And another who said she needed the cash for satellite TV, are among the latest examples of strange excuses that Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) benefit fraud investigators have heard over the last year. Other odd stories told to DWP officers include a claimant who, using a fake ID, said her skin colour had changed after a road accident; a man who blamed his evil twin; and a woman who claimed she wasn’t in a relationship but just had a three-night stand resulting in three children over five years. These unlikely stories are revealed as the Government announces a new campaign to target benefit fraudsters – encouraging claimants to come clean about any changes to their circumstances and urging the public to report suspicions about possible fraudsters to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline.
The campaign, starting this autumn, will remind claimants to report all changes in their circumstances at the time that they happen and before DWP investigators turn their attention to their claim. Examples of changes in circumstances include moving or buying property abroad, moving in with a partner or starting work.
Members of the public living in Spain can report suspected fraud anonymously via the Benefit Fraud Hotline on 900 554 440 or online at: www.dwp.gov.uk/benefit-thieves-spain. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am-4pm and all calls are free and confidential.
Minister for Welfare Reform David Freud said: “Hardworking taxpayers lost an outrageous £1.2 billion in benefit fraud last year.
“Our investigators are stepping up and taking advantage of the latest technology so fraudsters can be identified, traced and caught.
“The minority of claimants attempting to siphon off benefit cash need to know our teams are cracking down on them. Bare-faced lies are frankly transparent in the face of the evidence.”
Richard West, DWP Head of Fraud Investigations, said: “We are used to fraudsters telling tall tales to hide their crimes.
“When faced with the evidence, most people hold their hands up and admit what they’ve done. But some people refuse to admit they have been caught stealing. Some people will keep on trying to lie as a way out – even to the point of ridiculousness. They usually just end up digging them themselves deeper into a hole.”
This summer DWP investigators were asked for the strangest excuses they have heard from benefit fraudsters. Here are some of the best:
•A claimant in West Lothian tried to explain her reason for falsely claiming: “I needed the money to pay for TV in each of the five bedrooms, as the kids have ADHT, and I have to keep them in.” She failed to mention the children no longer lived with her.
•A Glasgow claimant tried to explain excessive income: “Any wages under £200 are mine but any over £200 must belong to someone else.”
•A Bilston claimant questioned about a ‘living together’ fraud: “I don’t know why you’re interviewing me, I’m bisexual!”
•In Liverpool a claimant insisted that she didn’t have a relationship with a man who stayed most nights of the week. When it was pointed out that they had 3 children together in a 5-year period, she said: “We’re all entitled to a one night stand aren’t we?” She was again reminded that there were three children. Her answer: “Well, a three-night stand then”.
•A claimant from Worcester tried to say: “It’s not my partner, it’s my sister.” When the investigator held up their wedding certificate, he replied: “That was a drunken mistake.”
· A man interviewed in Folkestone regarding a failure to declare his night-watchman job said: “I only claim benefits during the day; what I do at night is my own business”.
· Another claimant from Folkestone was interviewed regarding failing to declare her partner: “He doesn’t live here, he just comes every morning to collect his sandwiches and kiss me good morning before going to work”.
•A woman when asked why her husband’s belongings were in a wardrobe in her Highgate bedroom, after failing to mention a partner in her benefit claim, said: “It’s a spare wardrobe. I never look in a spare wardrobe”. She pleaded guilty in court and was given a community work order for 12 months.
•A Gloucester jobseeker filled in his application form and said he didn’t have a partner living with him: His excuse: “It’s her property so she doesn’t live with me, I live with her.”
•In an identity fraud trial, the alleged fraudster from London claimed she was a white female depicted in photos even though her skin colour was black and suggesting her face had changed shape following a car crash.
•Said a claimant from Glasgow: “You have me confused with my evil twin brother. He lives in Pakistan and visits the UK regularly.” The man had two Pakistani passports, one in his own name and the other in the identity of his ‘twin’. Both passports listed all his own children. The excuse? “My brother has children born on the same dates with the same names.”
•”I didn’t tell you about my private pension because it’s private.”
•A North East DLA claimant asked why she claimed she was incapable of cleaning her own house when she was working as a full-time bus cleaner: “By the time I come in from work, I’m that knackered.”
•And finally: “It’s Christmas so I should be able to keep the extra money.”