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friend may go to prison for benefit fraud. AIBU to think its unfair her partner will get off scot free?

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balenciaga Thu 27-Feb-14 11:08:44

there is a back story here, which i will try and keep brief. my good friend has been with a guy on and off for 4 years, he was amazing at first and promised the earth as they do, then he became very abusive (mentally, physically and financially) and she was frightened of him. He even left her twice for 2 different women but she took him back. However, 2 months ago she finally left him (thank god) and moved back home to her mums and is starting again, looking for a house, a job etc.

she has 4 dcs and turns out she was claiming as a single parent the whole time he was with her sad I am not making excuses for her but she was scared to stop claiming as he would not contribute financially and she was scared of not being able to pay bills, eat etc. Also, he pressured her into keeping claiming (which I can WELL believe) and assured her it would be fine, no one would know etc hmm - basically so he could carry on spending his wages like water living rent free and doing whatever the fuck he pleased.

she only told me a few weeks ago what had happened. while she was still with her ex, she had been called in for an interview with the fraud team at DWP as they had suspicions and she confessed it all to them. I couldn't believe she had done it TBH but as much as I absolutely do not condone what she's done I can kind of understand her reasons, its not black and white, yes I did think why the hell did you not leave him earlier etc but its not that easy is it sad

her court date was yesterday. because of the length of time she kept the fraud up for and the amount of money involved (over 33k and that's just HB and income support - ie before tax credits even shock ) the judge pretty much decided as soon as she went in that the case would go straight to Crown. Her solicitor has warned her that a prison sentence is a real possibility sad

AIBU to think this could be quite a common reason for women committing benefit fraud? and that the law seriously needs looking at and these cocklodging bastards of an ex should also be made accountable?? it takes two ffs !!

CoffeeTea103 Thu 27-Feb-14 11:12:34

How many of the kids are his? If none, why was she relying on him financially? Sorry but your friend did have many options. When she did eventually leave him did she continue claiming?

crispyporkbelly Thu 27-Feb-14 11:15:04

How did they find out? Sadly they probably won't get in trouble as she was the one claiming

2cats2many Thu 27-Feb-14 11:16:37

I suspect she will get a suspended sentence if it's her first offence. Especially as her children are small. Everything you've said here she will be able to put forward in mitigation.

Its a tough lesson that she's learnt, but he won't be held accountable. She was claiming in her name.

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Feb-14 11:18:25

The thing is, as much as I feel truly sorry for your friend, everyone who commits benefit fraud has a reason.

justanuthermanicmumsday Thu 27-Feb-14 11:21:43

hopefully the fact that she has kids that need her, and psychological abuse from partner will play in her favour. I think she should be given a chance.p, everyone deserves second chance. it would be stupid for her to go in prison and have kids suffer in foster care. I hope the courts do the right thing, she does need to be punished in some way though don't you think? Not prison but something?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Thu 27-Feb-14 11:24:34

I'm very sorry for your friend, OP. What is her solicitor actually advising her? Has she presented mitigating circumstances? Coercion a possibility? <grasps at straws>

The difficulty is that is was your friend claiming and committing benefit fraud, not him. She's an adult and it should have been obvious to her not to do it. This man was in no way contributing to her household so she didn't need to claim more to feed/house/clothe herself and her children - just HIM. The law is fine as it is but I think that there should be some kind of mandatory therapy attached to such cases to dissuade women from letting men run - and ruin - their lives for them.

Many women are mothers, they have responsibility for their children and can and do manage really intelligently to live their lives without a partner. Why did she keep letting this man back into THEIR lives when he kept hurting her/them? It's this awful pattern that needs to be challenged - with the only people that actually count here - the women.

Could Womens' Aid help or advise in any way?

theywillgrowup Thu 27-Feb-14 11:25:46

this goes on alot,man moves i to a ready made house and basically takes on no responsabilitys financial or otherwise

i agree op he should take his share of the blame but your friend is the one who is to be prosecuted

i still doubt she will face custody though,hope she stays well away from him and countless others like him

if there was dv and policed called etc this could be a good defence in court for her

expatinscotland Thu 27-Feb-14 11:29:59

She'll have a criminal record to aid her in a job search.

What she did is a crime, though, and I hope she learns to stop dating arseholes.

exexpat Thu 27-Feb-14 11:33:54

A mother in a similar case in my area - longer time scale, so bigger total amount of money involved - has just been sent to prison for it.

Looks like having young children won't necessarily spare you a custodial sentence, though obviously every case is different. It sounds like pleading not guilty did not do that woman any favours, so if your friend has already admitted it, she might do better.

Birdsgottafly Thu 27-Feb-14 11:33:55

I don't agree with anyone going to prison for benefit fraud.

She has been silly admiting to the extent that she has.

However, whilst I understand the effect of Emotional Abuse on a person, the benefit system isn't in place so a partner (or parent) can shirk any responsibility, or so the "victim" can enable arsehole behaviour.

He cannot be held responsible because he hasn't signed the claim forms, to declare that he is telling the truth.

You can only be held responsible for your own behaviour.

I often think that women who live with drug dealers should get higher sentences, though.

balenciaga Thu 27-Feb-14 11:38:14

oh i totally agree she does need to be punished in some way, i accept that. i just think its a disgrace that nothing happens to these "men"
she is already involved with womens aid and has a case worker, also her solicitor has been fantastic and she is aware of the whole story of course. so hopefully this will help her avoid prison

and yes i hope this will deter her from arseholes like her ex in future, i reckon loads of it must go on.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 27-Feb-14 11:39:36

Benefit fraud is theft. Not only is it theft but it fucks it up for everyone else who needs to claim benefits and give ammunition to people who think all benefit claimants are feckless, lying wasters. So it should be punished harshly and I'm not against prison for habitual offenders. For a first offence and under these circumstances I don't think prison is the best option. I have sympathy for her; being pressured into committing a crime is certainly a mitigating factor in my mind, but it doesn't change the fact that she lied and stole money.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 27-Feb-14 11:40:00

This is awful OP and I agree he shouldn't get off scot free.
The same happened to my dsis she had a newborn prem baby in hospital at the time.
She went to prison for a year.
He got off scot free.
I have every sympathy, but at the end of the day my dsis did sign the papers to say she wasn't working and he was fiddling tax credits.
It was about 13 years ago now, at a time they were making example of people. Just how it is now.
I hope she doesn't go to prison, I'm told that the amount of money makes a difference to the sentence. It was her first offence as well, hadn't even had a parking ticket up till then.

balenciaga Thu 27-Feb-14 11:41:40

omg exexpat 79k shock

btw yes meant to say she pleaded guilty

AgaPanthers Thu 27-Feb-14 11:43:04

She will probably get a suspended sentence.

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Feb-14 11:44:13

But what also goes on is some women putting 'these men' before their own children's welfare.

I'm not saying I don't feel sorry for her, but she has been very selfish in putting her own needs before her children's. She invited the guy back into her home repeatedly on and off for 4 years. I doubt she did that for the kid's benefit.

Of course she couldn't sign off because even if he did offer to pay his way, all the breaking up and getting back together would have been a nightmare when it came to opening and closing benefit claims.

Fine if she was working but she wasn't and I expect the court will take the view that she knew exactly what she was doing.

AgaPanthers Thu 27-Feb-14 11:45:52 £60k - suspended sentence, caring for 2 disabled children £10k - no mitigating circumstances or children - £14k, suspended sentence, no children

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Feb-14 11:49:00

Also the figures that the DWP come up with, rarely cover everything that the fraudster has got away with.

Things like council tax benefit, free prescriptions, opticians and free school meals aren't always added to the overall amount.

WorraLiberty Thu 27-Feb-14 11:49:11

And free dental work!

SaucyJack Thu 27-Feb-14 11:51:06

YANBU to think he should be legally accountable as well.

However, I have limited sympathy for her. Four years is a bloody long time to be putting yourself and your kids through that kind of crap. She was the adult and needs to take responsibility for her (lack of) actions.

CoffeeTea103 Thu 27-Feb-14 11:52:51

Sorry but when he left she wasn't forced to take him back, she chose to. So she knew what she was doing. It's very easy to want to blame someone else but at the end of the day you need to take responsibility for your own life.

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 11:55:45

I have sympathy. She was in an abusive relationship. Did she ever need to call the police about him during their relationship? She will need proof of his controlling and abusive nature in order to avoid a sentence...she has children and this might help her case as they will not want her to be away from them if possible.

BumpyGrindy Thu 27-Feb-14 11:56:35

Could you vouch for her in court? You say he abused her physically as well as their any proof of this?

ScarletStar Thu 27-Feb-14 11:57:46

I can't believe she confessed! I would've denied it, but I suppose it's much harder to do that on the spot. What a shame on her. I would advise her - now - to get involved even 2hours a week in some kind of volunteer work. It will show the court that she's trying to be responsible and make amends in some way. I know a friend of a friend who did this (created a charity page on facebook and raised tons of money for the local children's charity) and it went in their favour. Manipulative I know but fuck it.

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