Specialists in Serious Fraud and Complex Criminal Defence
Benefit Fraud Solicitors
MPR Solicitors possess a wealth of experience of defending benefit fraud cases. As a niche practice dealing almost exclusively with criminal and fraud cases, we have the breadth of knowledge required to advise and represent you if you have been accused of committing benefit fraud.
To contact our solicitors regarding a charge of benefit fraud, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our London office.
As a law firm, we provide partner-led, quality, professional service. If you have been accused of benefit fraud, your liberty; reputation, freedom and access to public funds may be at risk. You can trust us to provide expert advice and robust representation while supporting you and your family throughout your case.
Clients who instruct us can be confident of our in-depth knowledge and experience in all allegations and charges of fraud.
What counts as benefit fraud?
Many organised gangs working in what are known as Organised Criminal Networks (OCN’s) establish many identities, sometimes using genuine details in order to enable the making of multiple claims for a large number of available state benefits. This can go untraced for several years by the authorities and the amounts involved may be many millions of pounds. MPR Solicitors have been involved in defending in some of largest prosecutions involving benefit fraud. If you are alleged to be involved in this type of organised conspiracy it is crucial that you contact us so that we can provide the best advice and assistance from an early stage of the investigation.
As an individual you may have committed benefit fraud if you deliberately fail to report a change in your circumstances or provide dishonest information when applying for a benefit.
Benefit fraud can be committed by not supplying the following information to your local authority or the Department for Work and Pensions:
- your correct household income
- how much money you have in savings
- who lives with you and their relationship to you
- a change of address
- if you have purchased a property
A common example of benefit fraud is someone claiming income and housing support as a single parent and failing to inform their local authority or the Department for Work and Pensions that a new partner has moved in with them. Another common scenario is where a person continues to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance after gaining employment.
What are the penalties for benefit fraud?
If you are convicted of committing benefit fraud, it is likely you will be required to pay back the money you were wrongly paid. In addition, you may be given an administrative penalty, which is calculated as a percentage of the benefit overpayment arising from the offence. This penalty will be on top of the amount you have to pay back to authorities.
If the benefit fraud committed is of a serious nature, you may be prosecuted in the Magistrates’ Court. If the charges of benefit fraud are more serious, the case may be transferred to the Crown Court. We will be able to advise you on the likely venue for your case.
You can go to prison for benefit fraud. For example, the penalty for being convicted of dishonestly failing to report a change of your circumstances is a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment. Knowingly making a false statement to obtain benefit payments carries a sentence of up to three months’ imprisonment per offence (up to a maximum of six months).
As you can see, the penalties for benefit fraud can be catastrophic for people who may be already struggling financially. Our benefit fraud solicitors in London can guide you through a benefit or housing benefit fraud investigation and quickly establish if you have a defence or mitigating circumstances that may avoid you going to prison or if that is unavoidable then to reduce your sentence.
How long does a benefit fraud investigation take?
The Department for Work and Pensions, local authorities and HMRC all have the power to investigate suspicions and allegations of benefit fraud.
Investigatory powers are extremely wide. For example, if you are suspected of claiming income and housing support while living with a partner, investigators can set up surveillance outside your house to monitor comings and goings. Often the most exhaustive investigations are undertaken if someone is accused of fraudulently claiming a Disability Living Allowance. Trained investigators may not only monitor your home to see if you are more mobile than you claim, they request copies of bank statements to check for entries such as gym memberships, which may show you are not entitled to receive the benefit.
You may be asked to attend an interview ‘under caution’, which means anything you say or do may be used as evidence against you if the case proceeds to court.
Never attend a benefit fraud interview without a solicitor present.
Investigators will be chatty and friendly, deliberately to get as much information from you as possible. Our solicitors are well versed in benefit fraud investigation techniques and will protect your best interests throughout the interview.
It can take many months for investigators to gather enough evidence to charge a person with benefit fraud. This can seriously affect your life, which is why it is crucial to seek legal advice as soon as you can.
Will I be evicted for housing fraud?
If you are convicted of council housing fraud, you may lose your tenancy.
Housing fraud includes:
- being dishonest when applying for a property – e.g. claiming to have children when you don’t
- sub-letting a property without authorisation
- continuing to occupy the property after the legal tenant has died
Being made homeless is a serious consequence for you and your family. If you are facing an accusation of housing fraud, contact our benefit fraud team as soon as possible.
Will my benefits be stopped if I am found guilty of benefit fraud?
Your benefit can be stopped while you are being investigated. If this is going to happen, you will receive a letter informing you of the fact.
Being accused of benefit or housing fraud can be a stressful, frightening time for you and your family. Our solicitors can provide expert advice and representation that you can fully rely on.
To contact our benefit fraud solicitors in complete confidence, please call 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.
Specialist advice in all aspects of Benefit Fraud