£35k housing benefit crook jailed
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Legal
prison cellImage: via Shutterstock
A thief who stole £35,000 in housing and council tax benefits and income support has been jailed for five months.
Crooked Troy Owen was sentenced after a joint investigation by South Gloucestershire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Owen first claimed housing and council tax benefit from the council in 2009 while also receiving income support from the DWP.
The 30-year-old was paid the benefits on the basis that he was a single person who had no savings or capital.
However, a DWP investigation in early 2012 identified that the fraudster had apparently failed to report savings held in undeclared accounts.
When pressed by investigators, the crook admitted that he had not declared his savings.
He also admitted that he had not declared ownership of two properties and that his lodger was actually his wife.
His claim to all benefits was found to have been false from the outset.
Owen entered guilty pleas to two charges of dishonesty brought under the Fraud Act 2006 at North Avon Magistrates' Court in February.
Summing up at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Julian Lambert said: “You cynically cheated the public purse and fraud of this sort has a corrosive effect on society."
Owen had been overpaid a total of £16,487.08 in housing benefit and £3,157.68 in council tax benefit between 17 July 2009 to 6 November 2011, and £15,732.26 in income support between 30 April 2008 to 1 October 2011.
A Proceeds of Crime hearing will be held later with a view to recovering the overpaid benefits.