Suspended jail sentence for Leiston man who pleaded guilty to benefit fraud

The Scales of Justice

The Scales of Justice - Credit: PA

A man has received a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.

David John Cook, 50, of Neale Close, Leiston, appeared at Ipswich Magistrates Court on February 17.

He pleaded guilty to three charges under the Social Security Administration Act 1992; failing from late September 2009 to inform the council of a change of circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefits, dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefit in December 2009 and dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefit in October 2012.

All three offences led to him claiming benefits on the basis he was single, when he in fact had his partner, who was also employed, living with him.

The total overpayment was £15,212.81 in housing benefit, £2,925.12 in Council Tax benefit and £681.221 in Council Tax reduction.

Mr Cook was given a sentence of 12-week imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80 and legal costs of £150.

Siobhan Martin, head of audit at Suffolk Coastal District Council said: “Suffolk Coastal has a zero tolerance approach towards fraud and corruption of any kind. We will prosecute offenders.

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“This offender now has a criminal record and will have to pay back all the money he fraudulently claimed, which amounts to over £18,000.”

Doreen Savage, Cabinet Member at Suffolk Coastal with responsibility for housing said: “This case is an example of someone who has not dealt honestly with the benefit paying authorities and as a result has found himself in court and now subject to a suspended custodial sentence.

“I would urge claimants to be careful, clear and honest when submitting their claims and to come to us if they think they may be making a claim incorrectly.

“Honesty may sometimes reveal a claimant is in fact entitled to a higher level of benefits than they are currently receiving.

“However, this outcome once again demonstrates the hard work, determination and commitment of the corporate counter fraud team who will continue to enforce our ‘zero tolerance’ policy on benefit fraud.

“If you are a benefit cheat, we will find out and you will be prosecuted.”

Suffolk Coastal has a zero tolerance policy on benefit fraud.

There is a 24-hour fraud hotline for people to call confidentially and report suspected benefit frauds on. Call 01394 444444 or email ccfu.scdc@eastsuffolk.gov.uk

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