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Archive for the ‘Fraud’ Category

Benefit Fraud and Savings

Benefit fraud and savings


Benefit Fraud and Savings


We recently acted for two different clients, both of whom were being investigated for Benefit Fraud.  In both cases we were able to persuade the Department for Work and Pensions that criminal charges were not appropriate.


Client A had a poor credit rating, very poor. In the past he had struggled financially and had got himself into debt.  He was now clear and trying hard to regain some financial credibility by rebuilding his credit rating. He was signed off work due to health issues and in receipt of several benefits, he didn’t have the luxury of savings etc, he was living week to week. His mother was selling her house and downsizing, and to help him she put the proceeds into an account in his name. It was not his money, it was never intended to be his money, but with his mother’s agreement, he did make a number of transactions in and out to friends from the money. His belief was that this would help with his credit rating. During this period he had not worked, the moneys in and out of his account were not due to salary, just playing around with the transfer of money in the mistaken belief that it would help his credit rating. He also began to act as a ‘bank’ for a few friends – with them giving him small sums regularly to put away towards their holiday.  Again the full amount remained, in his eyes, belonging to the original individual, he was just holding onto it so they couldn’t spend it.


He was investigated for benefit fraud.  We liaised with the DWP; attending meetings with him and providing details of where the monies were from and why.  We supported him throughout the case and were thrilled to be able to advise him that the DWP had decided that no criminal charges would be brought. This process took about 6 months, during which time we remained in close contact with the client, even after the case had been passed to the decision team at the DWP and we were told not to expect a response for at least 6 weeks. At the end of his case our client was very happy with the outcome and with our involvement.


Client B was a student in receipt of disability allowances. She was due to attend a mandatory residential event as part of her course, unfortunately the event was not suitable for her and accessibility was a big issue. The week was, in her words, a nightmare of embarrassment and pain where she was repeatedly unable to participate (or worse) due to the lack of resources available to her as a wheelchair bound blind woman.  She even suffered a further serious injury due to the staff’s attempts to make the venue ‘work’ for her.


There was never any question that the University had made a mistake – they fully accepted that the accommodation booked was not wheelchair accessible, that no risk assessment had been completed as regards her needs and that she should have been warned of the unsuitability of the event for her and an alternative offered or an alternative venue should have been booked. The University settled with our client for the distress caused. Unfortunately this meant our client now had a significant sum in savings, which she used to buy her own mobility vehicle for use by her carers.


Our client was then investigated for benefit fraud – for claiming support when she had savings.  We liaised with the client and the DWP, pointing out the unfairness of a disability discrimination compensation payment being used to remove her entitlement to the allowance she received to pay for a carer. As we were able to identify the source of the funds, and show that they had now been spent, the DWP agreed that this sum should not be held against her. Their investigative file was closed and no further action was taken. Our client was very relieved and grateful for our assistance.


At Forrest Williams we understand that people can unwittingly and unintentionally conduct themselves in a manner which would raise suspicions with the fraud team at the DWP. We know that benefit fraud is not always intentional. In particular benefit fraud and savings can be a complex issue and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. 


If you are being investigated on suspicion of Benefit Fraud then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 397200. We will work with you to get the best possible outcome for you.



Fraud By Abuse of Position

Kirsty Day of Forrest Williams


Fraud By Abuse of Position


It was the day before Christmas Eve, normally where offices have got Christmas music blaring and staff playing Christmas themed crosswords and mentally “switching off” before the festive break.


Not Forrest Williams.


I received a call from a young woman who sounded very timid and worried.  She had a court case currently underway and was using a Legal Aid solicitor who she didn’t feel was doing enough to help.  She wanted to speak to someone who she felt would care about putting the effort into helping her. She came to the right firm.


Laura was under investigation for Fraud by abuse of position, namely that she had been working as a sales assistant and dishonestly abused this position to make a financial gain of £9,000.


Laura was very remorseful – she had been going through a lot personally and was trying to battle her depression by working through it when she should have been taking the time off work.  She lashed out the only way she knew how.


Her court case was on New Year’s Eve. Instead of telling Laura we were unable to help due to the close proximity of her case and the time of year, I made sure I did everything possible to help her even though I was off over the festive period myself!  I instantly provided her with all my contact details, promising to come back to her via email, call or text as soon as I could even when off work, and also rallied our amazing team together to make sure that everyone knew of Laura’s case and would be able to help during our minimum staffing levels.


When you call Forrest Williams your call is answered within 3 rings by a lawyer who can help. I wonder how many other firms would have offered Laura the same service, especially at Christmas time?


Laura appeared at the Magistrates Court on New Year’s Eve with an experienced criminal barrister to represent her. We were confident we had a fully prepared file; Laura was confident that her barrister would fight her corner. Imagine our surprise when the prosecution decided to replace Laura’s charge of fraud by abuse of position of £9,000 up to fraud by abuse of position of £30,000!


The case was sent up to the Crown Court.  My constant liaison and pressure on the prosecution between the two hearings meant that I managed to secure Laura’s original charge and have the prosecution withdraw the higher amount of £30,000. The difference in terms of sentencing options for these two amounts was huge, with a custodial sentence much more likely for the higher amount.  Laura was ecstatic and couldn’t believe that the hard work of Forrest Williams behind the scenes had managed to secure this.


Laura appeared at the Crown Court with the same barrister and we managed to work towards a favourable outcome for Laura. Her custodial sentence was suspended meaning Laura could now focus on working through her depression and concentrate on her upcoming wedding.  She was eternally grateful for the determination of myself as her dedicated case worker, the friendly help of calling through to a member of the team willing to help on every phone call, and the continuity of the same barrister attending her hearings.


Switching from Legal Aid to a private firm potentially saved Laura from going to custody.


If you feel your Legal Aid firm aren’t doing their best to work on your case and want the full benefits of instructing privately; or you know your life is too important to risk not having the best legal help, please call our team on 01623 397200.




Can I Go To Prison For Not Paying Tax?

Can I Go To Prison For Not Paying Tax?


We are asked this question frequently and sadly it is an area where we have to give people an answer they do not want to hear.


Yes, you can be sent to prison for not paying tax.


Generally speaking, tax evasion is not a common problem. HMRC estimates that 93% of tax due is paid and this is largely due to the fact that most people are taxed at source – the correct sums are paid at the correct time automatically, usually out of wages.


Where tax evasion does occur however, it is dealt with harshly, and especially during a recession. Tax evasion is a somewhat political issue, with the general public being outraged by the subject at a time when most people are struggling financially but still being taxed.


The Crown Prosecution Service, the HMRC and the court systems are well aware of this, and will respond to public demand to handle such cases robustly.


Tax evasion is estimated to cost the UK economy £14 billion each year and, with this in mind, it is not surprising that the response to tax evasion is being ramped up, including the HMRC and prosecution service’s recent focus on prosecuting those who set up tax avoidance schemes as well as those who evade tax.


Tax evasion is fraud, and it is treated as such. While the media reports on larger, interesting cases such as Operation Galaxy, individuals can find themselves being investigated for, and charged with, tax evasion for much smaller amounts and custodial sentences are a very serious risk.


If you are being charged with or investigated for a revenue fraud, it is vitally important that you seek expert advice immediately. Call our dedicated team now on 01623 397200.



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