Plea to ‘shop’ benefit cheats

EAST Dunbartonshire Council is calling for residents to ‘shop’ anyone they suspect of being a benefits cheat.

The move comes after a fraudster from Kirkintilloch was put behind bars for nine months.

Tracy Spence (36), of Kirksyde Avenue, Kirkintilloch, was sentenced for benefit fraud when she appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court last Wednesday.

Over a period of six years she fraudulently obtained £53,662.52 in benefits from both East Dunbartonshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), by claiming to be a single parent.

Investigation

After receiving intelligence from within the local community, Spence became the subject of an eight-month investigation undertaken by a team of specialist investigators who discovered that she had been living with her husband Benjamin.

Faced with the evidence Spence pled guilty to two of the charges and received the nine months’ imprisonment sentence.

East Dunbartonshire Council Leader Rhonnda Geekie said: “It is a high priority for East Dunbartonshire Council to recover fraudulently claimed benefits and to identify and prosecute those who continue to steal from the law-abiding tax payers of our community.

“Since the introduction of our free Benefit Fraud Hotline, our specialist investigators follow up all calls from residents about suspected benefits cheats and if investigations show that someone has been claiming falsely, we will do everything we can to secure a prosecution.”

Elaine Wilson, Jobcentre Plus investigation manager for Scotland, warned: “No one should think they can get away with benefit theft. DWP and local authority investigators are working together to track down those guilty of stealing money they are not entitled to, bringing them before the courts and making them face the consequences of their action.”

The council’s fraud team encourage anyone who has information regarding suspected benefit cheats to come forward. All information given is treated as confidential and you can report a suspected fraud anonymously by any of the following methods -

Phoning the Benefit Fraud Hotline free on 0800 328 6340 between 8am and 6pm, e-mailing fraud@eastdunbarton.gov.uk, online at www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/reportfraud or by writing to the Benefit Fraud Team, Revenue Services, East Dunbartonshire Council, Tom Johnston House, Civic Way, Kirkintilloch, G66 4TJ.