Crackdown on fraudsters reveals woman with Spanish villa on fiddle

BENEFITS cheats in Wigan will have no hiding place after a new crackdown was launched in the borough.

And those hunting them today revealed shocking details of a case last year in which a Wigan woman was caught on the fiddle.

Elizabeth Evans, 58, of Manor Court, Golborne, claimed council tax, incapacity and housing benefit. But at the same time as pleading poverty she neglected to declare any capital assets – which included a £150,000 holiday villa in Spain!

This case was just one real-life example of how benefit fraud is costing local taxpayers thousands. Wigan Council’s benefit fraud team was able to unearth the scam by working with the Spanish authorities and track down the culprit.

Evans admitted the fraud and was left with a bill for £4,500 in overpaid benefits and a six-month curfew order.

Now Wigan Council is urging everyone to make sure they do not get caught out by making sure they know what benefits they are entitled to claim.

The fraud team is working closely with organisations such as government departments and credit agencies to quickly compare information in a bid to hunt down the fraudsters.

Coun Paul Prescott, Wigan Council’s Cabinet Champion for Lifestyles, said: “There can be no excuses for benefit fraud. If you are caught you could be faced with the prospect of a criminal record and other sanctions.

“The council’s benefit fraud team is working hard to ensure that the taxpayer does not get ripped off by those who are claiming benefits they are clearly not entitled to.

“With times being what they are it is important that we ensure the benefit system is not abused and it goes to those who are really in need.”

Examples of Benefit Fraud include:

Not telling the council that you have started work;

Not telling the council you have a partner living with you;

Not telling the council that you have savings or your income has increased;

Not telling the council you have a private pension;

Not telling the council that you have moved house.

For further information regarding benefit fraud, please visit www.wigan.gov.uk/Services/AdviceBenefitsEmergencies/Benefits/BenefitFraud.htm

You can report benefit fraud by calling: 01942 705929 during and outside of office hours.