Benefit fraud is a serious offence with potentially life changing consequences for individuals.
Benefit fraud covers situations where someone has failed to report a change in their circumstances, for example becoming employed, or has given false information in their benefits application. This type of fraud is treated seriously by enforcement agencies – the fact that suspects face criminal sanctions is evidence of this robust approach. The other consequences of benefit fraud include an investigation into your affairs by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)’s fraud investigators, a formal caution, a fine and reduction or removal of benefits. Further, serious benefit fraud can attract media attention causing harm to a person’s reputation.
If you are suspected of benefit fraud, it is important to get advice from expert fraud defence lawyers without delay. At Keith J Tuck, we are well-versed in the prosecuting agencies' powers and procedures in relation to fraud cases. We regularly defend clients against allegations of fraud and have earned an excellent reputation in this area. We know how stressful it is to be investigated for benefit fraud – that is why we work hard to get you the best possible outcome and minimise the impact on your life. We help clients who are under investigation for fraud with regard to any type of benefit, including:
- Child Tax Credits.
- Working Tax Credits.
- Pension Credits.
- Disability Living Allowance.
- Child Benefit.
- Income Support.
- Housing Tax Benefit.
How will I know if I am under investigation?
Benefit fraud investigations are usually initiated by HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the local council. Generally, the first time you become aware of the allegations against you is when you receive a letter from one of these bodies asking you to attend an interview. However, this will not be the first step taken by the investigation officers in your case. The authorities will already have gathered relevant information from different sources, including banks and utility providers, on your actions.
Benefit fraud interviews
You will usually be given information about the offences you will be questioned about in the letter you receive. You might be told that you will be interviewed under caution, and you should be aware that benefit fraud interviews can trigger investigations into any other benefits you claim. There is likely to be two investigating officers present and the interview may be recorded. The recorded interview may be played in court if your case proceeds to trial. Your benefits may be stopped while you are under investigation. If this is the case, you will be made aware when you are first informed about the investigation.
If you are asked to meet with investigation officers, ahead of the interview it is vital that you seek advice from benefit fraud defence solicitors. At Keith J Tuck, we give advice to clients on how best to answer interview questions, how to deal with interview questions under caution, what your legal rights are and how to ensure these are protected. You have a right to have your lawyer present at the interview. As your legal representatives, we can get full disclosure of the evidence against you, allowing us to prepare a robust defence strategy.
Defending benefit fraud
If the fraud is serious, i.e. the amount of overpaid benefit is very high or the length of the fraud is extensive, the case may be sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for a decision on whether court proceedings should be taken. Our experienced and knowledgeable benefit fraud team can advise you on the best way forward and are able to present your case in a way which may persuade the agencies not to prosecute.
Sometimes, even if you decide to admit to an alleged fraud, court proceedings can still be avoided. We will advise you on how that is possible and how arrangements can be made to pay back the amount you owe. If an administrative financial penalty is imposed, we will use our expert negotiation skills to get the lowest possible fine.
Contact Our Specialist Benefit Fraud Lawyers in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Scotland
We have over 30 years of experience in criminal defence in Scotland and have particular expertise in serious fraud cases. We have an unrivalled commitment to defending individuals who face serious consequences and we have a high success rate in avoiding prosecutions and custodial sentences for our clients.
We have particular experience defending serious and complex cases, including the longest - and perhaps the most complex - indictment trial ever at Sheriff Court level related to fraud/people trafficking. Keith J Tuck successfully defended the principal accused. He also defended the principal accused in the longest trial ever in British legal history - a complex fraud case at the High Court. He has an unrivalled commitment to defending individuals who face crisis.
If you have been accused of benefit fraud, have received a letter from HMRC, the DWP or your local council about an investigation into your affairs, do not hesitate to get in touch with the benefit fraud defence team at Keith J Tuck Solicitors by calling 01413362020 or via our online contact form. Please leave your details and one of our team members will contact you as soon as possible for a confidential discussion.