If you commit fraud by claiming benefits which you are not entitled to you face being prosecuted. That’s the warning from Torbay Council following a successful court case against Mr Lee Shapter of Harberton Close, Paignton. He fraudulently received £5,842 in benefits after failing to declare an increase in earnings.

Sentencing him to a four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, Exeter Crown Court took into account Mr Shapter’s previous conviction for benefit fraud and the fact that he had breached a conditional discharge for a similar offence.

Executive Lead for Customer Services, Councillor David Morris, said: "Benefits exist for people who have a genuine need and dishonestly failing to notify us about a change in circumstance is a prime example of defrauding the public purse.

"We treat matters like this extremely seriously. I hope this successful prosecution will serve as a warning to anyone who is tempted to cheat the benefits system - we will take action against them and that could involve a prosecution.

"I would encourage anyone who suspects another person of wrongly claiming benefits to pass on information to us in confidence."

During 2014 - 2015, the council’s dedicated Fraud Team investigated over 492 cases of suspected fraud. 106 cases were either prosecuted or sanctioned and £203,249 of fraudulent Housing and Council Tax Benefit overpayments were identified.

If you suspect anyone of fraudulently claiming, you can:
• Email us at ebvit@torbay.gov.uk
• Telephone on 0800 731 2731
• Complete the reporting fraud form, and either send to: Torbay Council (Fraud Team) Town Hall Castle Circus, Torquay TQ1 3DS or drop it in to one of the Connections offices.

Other details can be found in the Fraud Awareness section of Torbay Council's website at www.torbay.gov.uk/benefits/fraud

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