A couple from Wigan celebrated their dream wedding abroad in Cuba, spending nearly £20,000 alone on flying the guests over to share in their joy. The extravagant ceremony totalled in at a whopping £89,128.
While the wedding was a fairy tale, it was never going to be a story where our newlyweds lived happily ever after; especially now that the bride has been imprisoned for benefit fraud.
A council investigation revealed that the married couple had both been making false benefit claims that dated as far back as 2000. During police searches of their home, officers uncovered wedding invitations a letter from the bride to Thomas Cook, explicitly stating that she would be personally paying the cost for the 20 guests invited to fly over to Cuba.
While both the couple were taken to court for benefit fraud in Manchester, only the wife received a prison sentence as she claimed the majority of the fraudulent benefits. She will serve a sentence of eight months.
Meanwhile the husband, 60, was working as a self-employed driving instructor whilst claiming out-of-work benefits and an allowance enabling him to be his mother’s carer. While he was overpaid £4,938 in benefits after failing to declare his income and savings, the 38 year old woman was overpaid £84,189.
The overpayments are a result of the woman claiming to be the sole parent of four children and then failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions that she had been living with her partner for twelve years. During this period she claimed income support, housing and council tax benefits.
The married couple both pleaded guilty to falsely claiming benefits. The husband was fined £500 along with £750 in costs. He will also have to comply with a £2,927 confiscation order (an order where a convicted defendant must pay ‘recoverable costs’. If he fails to comply then a month long jail sentence will be incurred.
The couple were first arrested back in 2013, where they denied living together. Even after the couple admitted that they had married in Cuba while on bail, they continued to deny that they lived together.
While some cases of benefit fraud clearly involve active deception, the term itself is so broad that you might find yourself accused or suspected of benefit fraud entirely by accident. Applying for benefits of any kind is a complex process that is subject to error, on the part of the applicant and the people processing those applications both.
In some cases, an applicant might have unintentionally supplied false information on an application or their circumstances unexpectedly change, which results in overpayments from the council. In most cases, it takes a long time for overpayments to be noticed, and as a result a large amount of money is accrued before the issue is identified.
It’s important that you seek excellent representation to get you through the complicated court process. Stephen Lickrish and Associates are a group of benefit fraud solicitors based in Manchester that also represent nationally. Whether you’re in need for representation for benefit fraud in the midlands or are looking for benefit fraud solicitors north east, they have the expertise and experience necessary to get you the best possible outcome.