Monday, April 28, 2014

Lottery Winners Plead Guilty to Benefit Fruad

A couple from the North East of England kept their £250,000 UK National Lottery winnings a secret so they could claim benefits.

Newcastle Crown was told Alfred Wells, 64, and Patricia Marshall, 55, claimed £41,638 in pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit they were not entitled to due to the tidy sum of money they had sitting in the bank.

Wells received his £250,000 National Lottery windfall in 2008. The former South Tyneside Council worker also received a further £38,000 when he retired, but he and Marshall told benefits officers they only had between £700 and £800 in savings. The payments they received between 2008 and 2013 were calculated accordingly.

Between September 2008 and December 2008 Marshall received a further £591 in housing benefit and council tax benefit by claiming she lived alone when in actual fact she was living with Wells.

When Wells won the lottery he made a generous donation to charity and also gave some money to his family, but at the time of their claim the couple had £171,000 in savings.

When they were arrested in August 2013 Wells said "All I am saying is hands up. I have been caught."

Lee Fish, prosecuting, told the court: "Both defendants were interviewed on August 1, last year, and in interview accepted that they had made these applications for benefits out of sheer greed."

"I have been an idiot, a fraudster, whatever you are going to call it," Wells admitted, pleading guilty to two counts of benefit fraud.

Marshall pleaded guilty to three counts of benefit fraud.

Judge Debbie Sherwin sentenced the couple to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and they were each told they must perform 100 hours of community service and pay £170 in prosecution costs.