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Data sharing revealed £26,000 benefits fraud

A benefit claimant, who failed to declare cash he had in bank accounts, has been ordered to repay the £26,000 he fraudulently obtained from Boston Borough Council.

Data matching with partner agencies revealed to the council's fraud department that Mr Philip Wilson, of Friary Court, Boston, held undeclared savings when he made claims for housing and council tax benefits.

Council fraud officers obtained records of Mr Wilson's accounts which showed the undeclared money held in his accounts. Had he declared his savings to the council, his claim would have been cancelled due to the level of capital held. Instead Mr Wilson continued to claim his benefits without telling the council about the money.

He admitted the savings held in the accounts during an interview with the council. He pleaded guilty to offences under the Social Security Administration Act and Fraud Act in relation to failing to declare capital when he appeared in court in October and at his sentencing hearing on November 12 at Boston Magistrates' Court he was given a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay legal costs of £950 along with £100 victim surcharge. He is also required to repay every penny of the £26,000 that he fraudulently claimed.

A spokesman for the fraud department said: "This case should serve as a warning to others who claim benefits and try to hide their savings or pension or any other household income. The council regularly undertakes data matching in conjunction with other agencies and it is only a matter of time before these systems pick up on the undeclared money. The best advice for those claiming benefits is to declare their true circumstances when they make their claims and to promptly notify the council about any changes they think may affect their entitlement to benefits."