A man has been found guilty of falsely claiming more than £44,000 in housing benefit, Crawley Borough Council say.
James Farman, 37, of Albany Road, West Green, was successfully prosecuted by the council for failing to notify a change in circumstances affecting this right to claim benefit.
A statement from Crawley Borough Council said: “Mr Farman had been claiming housing benefit from the council since May 2005 in respect of his address at that time in Southgate Drive, with the benefit paid directly to him as the sole tenant of the property.
“Information was received by the council’s Fraud Team in October 2013 indicating Mr Farman’s tenancy had ended in May 2007 and an investigation began.
“Evidence showed that Mr Farman ceased to be the tenant of the Southgate Drive property in May 2007, but he continued to claim and receive Housing Benefit without declaring this change in circumstances to the council.
“As a result of the investigation, Mr Farman’s entitlement to Housing Benefit was cancelled back to May 2007, causing an overpayment of £44,682.
“Mr Farman pleaded not guilty to the offence and the case went to trial at Lewes Crown Court in July, where the jury found Mr Farman guilty of dishonestly failing to notify of a change in circumstances and concluded that he knew he had acted dishonestly.
“Mr Farman was sentenced at Hove Trial Court on Friday (21 August). He received a six month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, 120 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £500. The overpayment is being recovered by the council.”
Councillor Stephen Joyce, Deputy Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “We take fraud very seriously and this conviction should serve as a warning to the small minority of people abusing the system.
“While the number of claimants committing fraud is very low we will use all of the powers available to us to catch those who obtain benefits they are not entitled to.
“If your circumstances change tell us; it’s the only way to be sure that you’re eligible for benefits.”
Based at the Town Hall, the Fraud Team works to prevent, detect and investigate all fraud committed against the council.
Anyone who thinks they know someone who is claiming benefits fraudulently can call the council free and in confidence 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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