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Help! Being investigated for TC Benefit Fraud(29 Posts)
Please help! I'm in such a mess. I have received a letter from the DWP saying that they are investigating for benefit fraud (failing to report a change in my household) and that I need to go for an IUC.
I've always lived at home with my Mum and still do (I already have a 3yr old). Last April I found out I was pregnant so my boyfriend (who lived over 50miles away) was going to come and move in with us at my Mum's until we could find somewhere together.
He stayed for a few weeks but we argued terribly so he went and stayed at his friend's house. We were quite on and off during my pregnancy. Then last November he says that he needs to get a phone upgrade but his bank details were still registered to his old address (he didn't have a fixed address) and he asked if he could change the address to my Mum's. My Mum instantly said yes as she just thought she was doing him a favour and nothing more. Besides this, we were talking about him moving in again anyway. A few weeks later I discover (by checking his old phone!) that he had been cheating on me. Needless to say, I was devastated and being heavily pregnant made it harder. He stayed at his friends house still but would visit often. So I then give birth to my son in Jan. My ex-Bf was there and afterwards we decided we would try and work through everything. Things were good initially but I struggled with trust so we were very on/off.
Aside from this, I must mention that my ex was so awful with money. Over the 2yrs we'd been together is helped him out financially and by this point he had owed me almost £4k. He had racked up so many debts and hidden them from everyone until one day (September 2014) when he spilled about how bad it was. Once again, I tried to help him. I borrowed money to bail him out and then set up payment plans on his debts and had them coming out of my account to make sure they got paid.
So, basically, we were not having a bf/gf relationship but I did still love him so continued with the arrangement that he would transfer money to me for his debts, money he owed me and child maintenance. He was so worried about spending his money he'd send more over to me and asked me to drip feed it back to him. We may not have been together but I still loved and cared for him so I agreed.
He has always very present as we have a child together and my older son is very close to him but he didn't have anywhere suitable to have them so was around a lot. Then the kids and I went through a phase of all being unwell (bronchiolitis for baby numerous times ending up in hospital, chicken pox, norovirus etc.)
I was really struggling so he was helping more. He would stay over to help with night feeds and sorting the kids out (only ever slept on the sofa). But as I said, we didn't have any romantic relationship.
So throughout this time I have never cancelled or amended my Tax Credits claim because I never saw him as a part of our household.
I'm absolutely petrified. I've never been deceitful in my life and I've just always tried to help people.
I work part-time and the kids go to nursery during that time.
I don't know what to do. Do I contact a solicitor? Do I just go to the interview and tell them exactly how it has been? :-'(
I sympathise, however you were living under the same roof and have a child together. Just be honest, the likely scenario is you will have to repay all TC from that period of time. HMRC are far less likely to prosecute than the dwp.
I think you absolutely do need to tell them the truth, but from reading your op, I can see why they think you were still together, and probably living together.
His bank account is registered to your address
He has been staying over
"He has always been very present"
He pays money into your bank account - probably more than you have declared to the DWP.
There are MNers on here who will be able to give you much better advice though.
You`ve very daft letting him `pay you` to cover your depts, as this looks like money coming in to you, for your benifit. Also looks like hes living there using your address.
How can you manage to give him 4k as a single mom on p/t and benifits?
However, can you prove he lives elsewhere? Any bills at another address? Is he working now with an employer record?
He needs his own bank account and sort his own bills out. He really is using you, and you`re letting him.
Just a suggestion - if you think you may get distressed at the interview and not able to give a good account of yourself, take a couple of printed copies of the post you've put here. It gives a very good account of how you've got into this situation. Good luck!
It's likely you'll have to pay a chunk of money back.
Tax credits aren't interested in complicated tales of woe though and I wouldn't say all of what you've said in your post to them.
Stick to the facts, it doesn't matter if you never saw him as part of the household, in their eyes he was and is because he's registered that address.
He needs to move his finances away from you and all you get from him is CM. It's not your problem if he's shit with money.
Theres not much you can do. Just go, be super honest and truthful and see what happens
Yep agree. Tax Credits don't care whether you are sleeping together or not (doesn't happen in some marriages) but the paper trail of him saying he lives at your address and him giving you money clearly makes it look like he is part of your household, which to be fair, he is in some senses.
I would try to get expert advice from the Citizen's Advice Bureau before you attend the interview if I were you.
And yes, stop letting this cocklodger take the piss.
I can now definitely see why they would think this too but it really is the truth.
If what I have been doing means that I don't actually qualify for the claim then that is fine but I never did anything with any intention to defraud anyone. I really never considered him a part of our household and neither has my Mum. I'd also be more than happy to arrange repayment.
I'm just so scared I'm going to get a criminal record and/or be sent to prison. I never for a moment thought I was doing anything wrong :-'(
I'm so soft hearted and looking back I can see I've been silly to help him.
I was able to help him with 4k over the space of 2yrs because I work part-time and live at home with my Mum (council property). I also, stupidly, borrowed money. 😔
I really appreciate everybody's advice. Thank you x
Lou honestly the chances of prosecution from HMRC in your circs are slim to non, they have different rules than dwp. Instead of prosecution they will probably impose a percentage of money owed as a fine.
Thanks for the link but it is from DWP and it's an interview under caution so they must think it's pretty serious 😞
If you cooperate and are honest they will go for repayment rather than prosecution, so long as it doesnt look like deliberate fraud. Was he registered in any way at another address eg to vote, driving licence
I'm such an honest person and if I thought for a moment that what I was doing was wrong I just wouldn't have done it. His driving license is under his old address and his friend that he has been staying with has said he is happy to confirm that he has stayed with him whenever he has.
If his friend was for instance claiming single person rebate for council tax they will pick up on that
Was his friend declaring rental income?
All you can do is tell them that.
They probably won't believe you though. Otherwise anyone who is fiddling it could say all of this.....oh yes, he lives with me but we're not in a relationship and he just gives me lots of money to stop him spending it himself.
I'm not making any judgement on whether I believe you or not as it really doesn't matter. But you need to be prepared for the fact they are very unlikely to believe you.
Can he prove from bank accounts he was paying his friend rent? That would really go in your favour. If so take bank statements.
It doesnt matter about owning home. Council tax rebate is claimed if only one adult in house. Just to give you an idea of how it might go eg his friend might change his story if it means he was declaring a rebate he was not entitled to. It might not be relevant
It will be an interview under caution, because it is fraud. In all likelihood, if you're honest with them and you set up a repayment plan, they'll probably caution you.
Where does he pay council tax? It sounds like he gets most of his post to your address? Where is his car registered? Where did he register to vote?
To be honest, I don't think that you have much of a defence, if you haven't left anything critical out. It sounds like he spends most of his time at your house, and at least half of his accounts/post comes to you. He pays you money to contribute to the house (do you declare this as income?). You'd find it very difficult to argue that he is not part of your household, but you may have some defence based on the answers to the above questions.
You'll go to the interview, they'll ask you questions. They will have your claim forms and ask you questions from them to work out what was true and what wasn't. They'll have the other evidence that they've likely gathered, such as where he is registered.
Do you have any relevant previous offences? If not, and if this wasn't deliberate fraud, a caution, a fine and repayment of all the TCs that you weren't entitled too is the most likely course of action.
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