Man's £7,000 benefits fraud
A MAN pocketed more than £7,000 in housing and council tax benefits when he made deliberate false claims, a court heard.
Lee Shapter did not fill in all of his benefit claim form and failed to say his wife was in receipt of child and working tax credit and received more money every month from Torbay Council and the Department for Work and Pension than he was entitled to.
The fraud went on for 18 months during which Shapter from Harberton Close Paignton, received £6,052 in housing benefits and £1,028 in council tax benefits.
The discrepancy between the benefit overpayment and Shapter's incomplete claim form came to light when the computer recouped his file and previous claims.
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Jeremy Schute, prosecuting on behalf of Torbay Council, said: "He must have known that the additional income was coming into the household and so he was knowingly providing false information to the authorities.
"It was a claim that was fraudulent from the outset."
Mr Schute said the case of fraud was made even more evident in that 18 months earlier Shapter had filled in the form properly.
Shapter pleaded guilty to one charge of benefit fraud when he appeared before the courts.
Alan Parsons, mitigating, said it was not a case of fraud from the outset but had been brought on as a result of naivety and bankruptcy for his haulage company.
He said: "Previous claims were made with the working tax and child tax credit information.
"He had it in his head that because they had filled in the claims properly previously, it would continue in the same way without having to fill it in again.
"He admits that he was wrong.
"It wasn't intentionally fraudulent from the outset."
Mr Parsons said his client had already repaid £1,164 of the overpayment.
He added: "He should have put the information in but it was not a sophisticated fraud claim.
"He has had a nervous breakdown four years ago following his haulage company going bankrupt. As a result he has suffered from memory losses."
Magistrates ordered that a pre sentence report be prepared and remanded Shapter on unconditional bail until August 15 when he will be sentenced.