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I'm being accused of benefit fraud, and I'm innocent

(9 Posts)
tolipfinityandbeyond Thu 23-Jun-11 23:22:53

Hi. My mother passed away last year, and I inherited a sum of money -a percentage from the sale of her house. As soon as I got the cheque I informed income support (I'm a carer with a disabled child, on my own with her and her brother) and I asked them on the phone if I needed to contact housing benefit and council tax. They said I didn't need to, as it would filter through and those benefits would obviously stop then.
That was last October, and with a disabled child and other pretty major stresses, including problems with my other child, I just let it go on, thinking that it would "soon" be stopped, I would pay any overpayment and all would be well. It only got stopped about six weeks ago! Anyway, as soon as I got the letter, plus bills, I got online and paid them.

But today I recieved this letter.:" Following an investigation into your claim for housing and council tax benefit, we have reason to believe that criminal offences may have been committed. The investigation relates to undeclared capital."
The only reason they know of this capital is because I declared it to Income support, but I'm still really worried. It's an interview under caution. HELP...

gallicgirl Thu 23-Jun-11 23:31:02

Don't worry too much as you did inform Income Support.

If you have the letters you were sent by DWP changing your IS, please take those to the interview as they will help your case.

Explain that you were clearly told by the DWP that you didn't need to inform the council as they would. Reiterate that you relied on the expert advice of the DWP.

If the DWP have only just stopped the IS then point out that it is THEIR error and also show that you have already paid back the overpayment.

You are entitled to legal representation if you want to take it or you can take a friend for moral support. You can also leave the interview at any point or pause it if you want to take a short break. The council will give you a copy of the interview.

For future reference, I would always inform all relevant departments in writing of any change as they're notorious for not communicating very well.

tolipfinityandbeyond Fri 24-Jun-11 00:07:38

Thanks gallicgirl. You are obviously right about the communication problems! x

ZillionChocolate Fri 24-Jun-11 07:44:37

Get a solicitor now, before the interview. Work out whether you can pay the money back.

allthefires Fri 24-Jun-11 07:51:50

DWP were wrong to tell you that but I will admit that doesn't mean that you werent told it!

The fact that you received Housing Benefit for some 6 months after income support ceased is going to be hard to defend as it clearly states in all letters you must notify all changes.

As you have already paid back the housing benefit that will be seen as favourable.

Hopefully you will get a common sense investigater who will understand that this is an oversight and not a malicious intention to defraud.

tolipfinityandbeyond Fri 24-Jun-11 18:03:31

Zillion there is no money to pay back. As soon as I got the bill, I paid it. I don't owe them a penny! How ironic, all this has come about because I did the right thing and declared my change of circumstances to income support. Maybe I should have just kept quiet about it like everyone said I should! I don't know if crime pays, but it doesn't seem like honesty does!

sneezecakesmum Fri 24-Jun-11 21:27:49

If you have a copy of your relevant phone bill locate the date and time of the call (proof that you made the call). There might also be a recording of your conversation - that annoying disclaimer, this conversation is being recorded for training etc purposes!

If it was an 0800 number though dont bother as these won't show on your bill and take a court order to retrieve!

allthefires Fri 24-Jun-11 21:50:51

It wouldn't help anyway. It's still the OP responsibility to inform and no the calls aren't recorded either.

allthefires Fri 24-Jun-11 21:53:16

Ps they would have found out eventually about undeclared capital so you did do the right thing in notifying I.S but you should have notified housing benefit too. Granted to thought I.S would but surely you knew you were still receiving it and therefore that isn't really a defense after about a month.

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