UK Hunting Out Benefit Fraud Abroad

By Editorial 08 July, 2014

The UK Government says that it is cracking down on those expats who are claiming benefits to which they are not entitled. Investigators based in Spain examined 769 cases last year.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), "abroad fraud" is now the fourth-largest type of benefit fraud, having increased by almost 90 percent over the last three years. GBP5m (USD8.5m) has been recovered from Spain, and expats in the country are being urged to report suspected cheats via a special hotline.

Typical frauds identified by the DWP include claims by people leaving the UK after their benefit claim starts, people failing to notify the Department before leaving the country or staying abroad for too long, and families failing to report the death of someone living abroad permanently and therefore continue to receive benefits.

Recent cases include a woman based in the UK who failed to declare a property she owned in Spain while claiming income-related benefits, and two men who fraudulently claimed benefits and Pension Credit while living in Spain. All three have now received jail sentences and been ordered to pay back the money they received.

The Head of the DWP's Fraud and Error Service, Richard West, said: "All fraudsters face either an administrative penalty or criminal prosecution and all must pay back every penny they have obtained, so that taxpayers' money continues to help the people most in need."

The UK Government is also now using life certificates to stop fraudsters from claiming benefits using the identities of deceased persons, and is to increase the sharing of data with foreign authorities.

The Government says that abroad fraud rose from GBP44m in 2010-11 to GBP84m in 2012-13, then dropped slightly to GBP82m in 2013-2014. The largest amount defrauded related to Pension Credit fraud.

Tags: Finance | United Kingdom | Spain | Expats | Investment | Pensions | Personal Finance | Property Investment | Welfare | Work | Invest | Investment | Pensions |


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