Crime doesn't pay for benefit fraudsters

By on 30/12/2010 in News

Crime does not pay for benefit fraudsters who have been on the receiving end of Birmingham City Council's tough stance against the problem.

The authority's Benefit Counter Fraud Team has taken legal action against 566 people since April 2010 and recouped a quarter of a million pounds in hard cash.

Efforts to protect the public purse were strengthened in June with the appointment of the team's first-ever dedicated financial investigator, who has hard-hitting powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Under the Act - set up to confiscate criminally-acquired money - the Council has notably forced a benefit cheat in one recent case to sell her Vauxhall Safira car.

Cllr Randal Brew, Cabinet Member for Finance at Birmingham City Council, said: “People who have acquired property or other assets using their ill-gotten gains through benefit fraud will be pursued by us through all the available means.

“Through the appointment of a financial investigator and our smart utilisation of the Proceeds of Crime Act, we are now seeing that offenders are more likely to sell their assets to repay monies falsely obtained from the City Council, in addition to facing criminal prosecution.

“Taxpayers hard-earned money is at stake here - and failure to comply with confiscation orders made by the courts can lead to offenders going to prison for longer.”

The council is always keen to be made aware of any cases of suspected benefit fraud that it may not already know about.

Anyone with information on possible cases should call the Birmingham City Council Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0121 303 9990.

All calls are confidential and callers can remain anonymous if they wish. Benefit fraud can also be reported online. To find out more information, visit: www.birmingham.gov.uk/bhamaudit

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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