£20,000 fine for pensioner after conviction for benefit fraud

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A pensioner must pay a fine of £20,000 after being convicted of benefit fraud.

Manzoor Begum, 64, of Hurst Grove, Bedford, has been ordered by Luton Crown Court to pay a total of £39,521 following her conviction for a £13,800 benefit fraud.

A joint investigation between officers of the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) and Bedford Borough Council commenced following information that Mrs Begum was due to benefit from the estate of her late husband.

Following an investigation it was identified that Mrs Begum had savings of £40,000 and an interest in a number of properties at the time she made her claim for Pension Credit and Council Tax Benefit which she had dishonestly failed to declare to the DWP and the council.

Mrs Begum was interviewed under caution and denied the offence. At the first hearing at Luton Magistrates Court Manzoor Begum pleaded not guilty and elected for trial by jury at Luton Crown Court. The total overpayment of Pension Credit and Council Tax Benefit was calculated at £13,847.97, which must be repaid.

Following a trial at Luton Crown Court, Mrs Begum was found guilty of both charges of dishonestly making false representations to claim benefit. Manzoor Begum was fined £20,000, to be paid within 6 months and ordered to pay legal costs of £3,500. Action was also taken against Mrs Begum under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the court ordered her to repay £16,021 within 3 months or risk being sent to prison.

Cllr Shan Hunt, Executive Member for Revenue and Benefits, said: “This crime is repulsive. Benefits are there to help those in need and in this case have been abused by a greedy person.”

In his summing up, the Judge commented that although she had partly inherited the situation she was in, she had continued with it out of greed.