Officers warn of fraud crackdown

PUBLISHED: 10:07 15 February 2007 | UPDATED: 13:48 04 May 2010

BENEFIT cheat Thomas Keating received more than £10,000 in handouts after failing to declare he was working. And Margaret Khalaf, of Swaffham Bulbeck, illegally collected £3,000 in benefits for which she was no longer entitled. Both were prosecuted this w

BENEFIT cheat Thomas Keating received more than £10,000 in handouts after failing to declare he was working.

And Margaret Khalaf, of Swaffham Bulbeck, illegally collected £3,000 in benefits for which she was no longer entitled.

Both were prosecuted this week by officers at East Cambridgeshire District Council working with Government benefit fraud officers.

They claim the convictions deliver a strong message to anyone believing they can get away with benefit fraud.

Benefit fraud officer Terry Early said: "This is not a victimless crime - it is you, the taxpayer, who has to pay for benefit cheats.

"In these two investigations we have seen that intelligence-led persistence and partnership working has led to the conviction of people who are breaking the law."

Cleaner Keating, 51, of Hempfield Place, Littleport, admitted dishonestly claiming £8,337 in housing benefit and £1,565 in Council Tax benefit after failing to tell the council he was working.

He appeared at Ely Magistrates' Court on Tuesday and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £250 costs while repaying the money at £8 per week.

In a separate case at Mildenhall Magistrates' Court, Khalaf, 54, of Maryland Avenue, Swaffham Bulbeck, admitted obtaining more than £3,000 of jobseeker's allowance, housing and Council Tax benefit for which she no longer qualified.

She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Mr Early said: "The verdicts handed down by the magistrates this week send a strong message out to anyone who thinks they can get away with benefit fraud.

"We have a number of officers who are dedicated to tracking down anyone who is trying to defraud you and the council."

INFO: If you suspect someone is abusing the system, then call the fraud hotline on 0800 3286340. To discuss a suspected fraud with a benefits investigator, call 01353 616260 in confidence.

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