You commit benefit fraud by claiming benefits you’re not entitled to on purpose. For example by:
- Not reporting a change in your circumstances
- Providing false information when making an application for benefits.
Benefit Fraud FAQ
A. If the Fraud Investigation Officer deems you to have committed fraud they will decide whether or not to give you an opportunity to repay any overpayment or pass the matter to the Procurator Fiscal for court.
A. If you are unemployed or on a low income you will likely be entitled to Legal Aid to cover the cost of employing a solicitor.
Benefit fraud investigation process
You’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority if you’re suspected of fraud.
Your benefit may be stopped while you’re investigated. You’ll receive a letter telling you about this if it happens.
You may be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers or asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim – this is called a DWP Interview under caution.
The Fraud Investigation Officers will gather facts about your case and decide whether to take further action.
If you’re asked to attend an interview
An ‘interview under caution’ is a formal interview that is often recorded. It could become part of a criminal investigation against you. It is therefore essential that you immediately obtain legal advice as soon as you have been made aware of any investigation being initiated. We have solicitors with years of experience in successfully dealing with complicated fraud charges. Our initial interview is free and you may be entitled to legal aid to defend any criminal proceedings that may follow on from the investigation.
We can be contacted on any of the telephone numbers stated on this website to arrange an initial meeting to discuss any allegations being made against you and to determine the best way to deal with your situation. You should bring along any correspondence you have received from the DWP or any other bodies looking into your benefit entitlement. There may be a reasonable explanation for certain information not being provided in relation to a benefit claim, we can negotiate with the Fraud Investigation Officers and in some cases satisfy them that no fraud took place, therefore stopping the matter from proceeding further.
What happens after a benefit fraud investigation
If after the initial investigation is you are deemed to have committed or attempted fraud benefit fraud, one or more of the following may happen:
- You’ll be told to pay back the overpaid money
- Your benefits may be reduced or stopped
- You may be taken to court
Even if you have already attended a DWP Interview under caution with the Fraud Investigation Officers it will still be in your interest to seek legal advice as soon as possible thereafter. If your case has already proceeded beyond this stage and you have been contacted by the Procurator Fiscal with a legal document, called a Complaint, you should immediately contact this office if you wish us to act on your behalf and represent you at court.
Losing benefits if you’re convicted of benefit fraud
Your benefits can be reduced or stopped for up to 3 years if you’re convicted of benefit fraud. The amount of time they’re stopped for depends on how many times you’ve committed fraud.
Only certain benefits can be reduced or stopped. These are called sanctionable benefits. But if you commit fraud on a benefit that can’t be reduced or stopped, your other benefits can be reduced instead.
Criminal lawyer defence
I can't thank this team of Glasgow solicitors enough. I was charged with benefit fraud for fiddling tax credits and was so scared I would be sent to prison. I didn't have the cash to pay back the total amount due. Nowsheen took on my case and managed to get me Legal Aid, so she could defend me in court. She took time to find out all about me and the reasons I claimed tax credits, even though my partner was living with me at that time.
In court she put my side of the story forward and showed evidence that he spent all his earnings on cocaine, leaving me short of money to pay the bills and buy food for myself and the kids. She managed to get me let off with a fine. This is far lower than the amount I actually owe in backdated benefits and I'm paying it back in small instalments. I can't believe it. I will certainly recommend Berlow Rahman Solicitors to all my family and friends.