Pensions

Pensioner jailed for a year over £43,000 benefit con



Dundee: Pensioner told there was no alternative to prison.


A pensioner has been jailed for a year over a £43,000 benefit con.

James Findlay, 67, claimed he had no income other than Jobseeker’s Allowance and no cash in the bank.

But just weeks later he received a tax free lump sum of £54,000 from his pension scheme.

He also hid regular payments from the Department for Work and Pensions and Dundee City Council.

As a result they paid him £27,000 in pension credit and £16,800 in housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Findlay has now been handed a prison sentence after he admitted “dragging his heels” by lying about his income – and receiving the huge payouts as a result.

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told Dundee Sheriff Court: “When he made his initial claim on January 13, 2010 he was asked if he was receiving a pension from his previous employment and he said no.

“In 2014 intelligence was received that he was in fact receiving an occupational pension from Equitable Life.

“An investigation found that on March 22, 2010 he received a tax free lump sum of £54,181.11.”

The court also heard he began receiving his occupational pension on April 1, 2010 but did not inform DWP or Dundee City Council of this.

Robertson added: “He said in interview that he had written to DWP but there was no record of this.

“He then said he had dragged his heels for a time.

“It was put to him that he had actively lied and he made no comment during the interview from then on.”

“You defrauded the public purse over a period of three years. It is in effect a fraud on society as a whole.”

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael

Findlay, 67, of Hindmarsh Avenue, Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to two charges under the Social Security Administration Act committed between May 2010 and December 2013.

Solicitor advocate Jim Laverty, defending, said: “He’s a 67-year-old man who has never come to the attention of the authorities.

“He has contributed to society throughout his life.

“However, he was forced into bankruptcy several years ago by matters outwith his control and ended up living in hostel accommodation.

“This lump sum came as a surprise to him – it was from a job he had had in the 1970s and the pension company had spent some time trying to trace him because of his lack of a fixed address.”

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael sentenced Findlay to 12 months in prison.

He said: “You defrauded the public purse over a period of three years. It is in effect a fraud on society as a whole.

“Regrettably from your perspective there’s no alternative but a custodial sentence.”

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