To consider reporting a friend for benefits fraud

(95 Posts)
bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 21:05:22

She's a former colleague who has been quite close to me and the rest of my family in the last two years. So much so that we went on holiday with our DCs and partners during summer and had a great time together.
I've always known that she has a blue badge for back pain and I was already uncomfortable about it. Not once in almost 3 years have I seen her struggle, limp, drag her feet, etc. We went hiking this summer and she didn't flinch! She regularly picks ups and carries around my toddler and not once has she struggled! I've only ever seen her "in pain" the day she went to a GP appointment and guess what? That day she was on crutches! The rest of the time she does everything absolutely normally!
I've recently discovered that she's been awarded the highest rate of the mobility component of DLA for being "virtually unable to walk" and I'm disgusted. She has had an operation a few years ago due to a whiplash injury and I really feel she's been milking it big time. She can be very persuasive so I can see how she would manage to bullshit her way through the system.
The trouble is, I work in this field and the idea that this person is on DLA HR mob is totally repulsive to me because I know what the qualifying criteria are and she definitely doesn't fit them.
I'm also considering befriending her but would I be a total bitch if I reported her?
Thanks for your opinions!

philosophicmum Thu 03-Oct-13 22:44:08

I find it hard to believe. DLA even at the highest rates isn't that much money if you're well off already, and it's not a particularly easy way to commit fraud. If she was crooked and determined to steal, there are easier ways than a fraudulent DLA claim.

About the only way I could believe would be if there had been a time in the recent past when she really was barely mobile at all, and got the DLA then, and hasn't notified anyone about her condition changing. And it's also possible that she's expecting it to get worse again and this is only a temporary improvement, and she doesn't see the point of getting it cancelled only to have to reapply again in a few months, given how long it takes to get all the paperwork done and processed.

AnandaTimeIn Thu 03-Oct-13 22:46:19

You are not really a friend if you are putting her "case" on MN rather than just asking her.

How do you know her whole story? Cos you don't. Why didn't you ask her while she was enjoying walks with you? You could have brought up the previous case you talk about here too.

If you were my friend I would hope you approach me instead of going public on MN.

I believe in karma anyway. If she is taking the piss it will come to light sooner or later.

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 22:49:37

It may sound hard to believe that someone would risk her career for £55 per week but equally some people think they're above the law or can get their way all the time

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 22:52:06

No I don't believe that she'll be found out if no one reports her.
I didn't go public on MN! This is all anonymous and I haven't given very specific info, have I? How ridiculous!

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 22:55:03

Sometimes you just warn to gauge people's views before you confront someone, or before you decide to drop the issue or even de/friend someone. I thought that was the point of an anonymous forum and definitely didn't think it makes me "sneaky"

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 03-Oct-13 22:55:09

Well it sounds an odd story either way!

I've sat in on tribunals and I find it hard to believe that a pair of crutches would sway them I'm afraid. And higher rate mob is the one they particularly watch for with fraud and crutches in no way get you through. In fact, crutches would be a sign that she probably does not fit the criteria as they imply an activity level beyond the criteria.

Your story is confusing, as i believe that alot of disability is hidden from the outside world and it's very sad that people feel they have a right to decide how ill or disabled a person is without asking them, we don't have it displayed for the world to see you know.

On the other side, going hiking is a step too far in that direction if it really was full on hiking? Even with a variable condition, someone wouldn't be that well for a sustained period of time and be able to claim that rate dla. However I think some of my more distant colleagues would say the same about me as they see me for 3 hrs weekly whilst I'm lying on a sofa but going to the loo and to get a drink ok... However it's only about 4 meters away so I can put up a pretense of normality for that long, and they don't see the 48 hrs of pain that comes after the weekly performance.

Mostly, I do find it hard to believe that a professional couple on their wages would risk all for the small amount if dla money given. I do see that a solicitor might be uniquely qualified to be able to defraud the system (access to case law etc), however, they have so little reason to and a huge incentive not to.

The way people go on about dla makes it sound like its a free ticket to a life of no work and many holidays a year. It's really not, it makes the difference between surviving and not surviving for disabled people. It's really hard to get and the fraud rate is the lowest of any benefit.

Conclusion: I think you should talk to her about her illness and ask her how it is nowadays... Maybe she doesn't mention it because it makes her feel down admitting how bad it is, or maybe it's private, or maybe she knows it's a conversation killer (believe me it really is!), and she d rather talk about things a well and healthy person can relate to. Or maybe she's a no good fraudster. You just don't know.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 03-Oct-13 22:57:32

Btw it will come to light sooner or later... If she really is getting higher rate dla then like everyone else in the country she will have to undergo an Atos reassessment and go onto the new benefit scheme.

But if you work in the area, shouldn't you know that???

pippibluestocking Thu 03-Oct-13 22:58:12

That's a very good question, Princess (:-~)

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 22:58:56

Erm yes, and I don't have much hope
That ATOS will see the truth either way

GreenGiant3 Thu 03-Oct-13 22:59:29

What strikes me as ridiculous is;

1. You would not confront this friend to her face before considering reporting her, which makes you a bad friend
2. A solicitor and accountant would risk criminal records and career loss to fraudulently claim benefits
3. That a "top solicitor" would want to risk everything for the sake of £55.25 per week (I'm sure that she would know of other ways of stealing more money if that was what was intended)
4. You are taking what your husband has said she said as she didn't want to tell you... I wonder why.

Talk to her. If not leave her. This thread is ridiculous confused

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Thu 03-Oct-13 23:01:01

While 50 od quid a week should not be much to a high earning couple, sometimes people do the strangest things. Look at the celebs (Anthony Worrall Thompson comes to mind) who have been caught shoplifting trivial, low-value items. You'd think they would reason that, given the bad publicity and negative hit on their career if they got caught, it's not worth it - but presumably they just didn't think that way.

OP I am in the 'report her and let the authorities decide' camp. And don't tell her beforehand. If she's claiming fraudulently (and as a solicitor I don't see how it could be getting it wrong out of ignorance) she won't react well to knowing who reported her, and you will get a load of grief from her even though she brought it on herself, because she'll then work out that it was you who reported her.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 03-Oct-13 23:04:09

I Agree, you are not much of a friend.
She sounds like my friend, who never complains, or struggles, or finds things difficult etc.
Her 11 year old dd secretly calls me if she is ill because friend won't ask for help. Sometimes she cannot move and is in agony. I wouldn't know if her dd didn't tell me.
You are a nasty piece of work and no friend.

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 23:06:31

Yes I thought of that. If I ask her lots of questions and sound suspicious it'll be straightforward for her to work out that it was me who reported her, also considering what I do.
I don't know what she would do as revenge but I would definetely not want to find out.

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 23:09:43

Nasty piece of work? Me? Because I'm pissed off that someone who goes hiking up a mountain and only uses crutches for going to GP and Tribunal gets money that's intended for truly ill people?
Thanks shock

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 03-Oct-13 23:12:03

Why don't you trust ATos not to strip her of benefits?!

That's what you want to happen, and that's what Atos are doing to people, so I'd have thought it was the perfect solution!

arethereanyleftatall Thu 03-Oct-13 23:12:50

Report her. It's not fair on those who genuinely need the money.

No one would do this for £55 a week

It beggars belief

A solicitor and an accountant will have 100k coming in so it would be pointless

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 23:16:20

Because it'll be years before they reassess everyone and because they have a tendency to get it wrong so if I'm right and she's not genuine, ATOS will probably say that she is

Lj8893 Thu 03-Oct-13 23:16:21

Hmm, I would talk to her first before contemplating reporting her.

I think calling you a nasty piece of work is a bit strong but you don't sound like you actually like her, several things you have said don't sound particularly friendly. Perhaps this could be clouding your judgement?

Brokensoul Thu 03-Oct-13 23:18:55

My DB ( not in UK) has got a problem with back and hips.He is working even though he is in so much pain and many people would not even think that he has any issues but lots of times I saw him literally carrying his legs out of the car and then pulling himself. Saying that, on other days he is playing basketball. As long as you are 100% sure it's up to to you but remember goes around comes around. Make sure the info you have is correct.
I would never do it, would break the friendship probably but rest I would leave it to resolve itself

valiumredhead Thu 03-Oct-13 23:25:02

Top solicitor?
Plate in her back?
Climbing mountains?

Have a word with yourself !grin

ilovesooty Thu 03-Oct-13 23:27:38

It just sounds as though you really don't like her much.

bimbabirba Thu 03-Oct-13 23:30:56

Time to go to bed. What's the point of posting if half of the people don't believe you and you have to keep telling them none of this is made up?

GreenGiant3 Thu 03-Oct-13 23:32:33

Sod's law OP.. You did ask AIBU... You don't like the majority think YABU.

Take a video on your phone of her lifting a child and hill walking.
Then send it to ATOS.
Make sure you get someone to call her name and her answering
"Oi, Mrs Smith slow down......Susan your lace is undone"

And yes, with the information about her job/her DH job/ the stairs/the surgery .....it could be identifying.

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