Benefit fraudster stole more than £31,000 and used false identity to work

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A Bedford benefit thief who stole more than £31,000 using a false identity must repay all of the money he took.

The 43-year-old has been given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to repay all of the money stolen.

Godfrey Burke, of Huddleston Way, who used the alias Paul Woods, appeared at Luton Crown Court on Thursday, January 16.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of dishonestly making false representations to obtain Job Seekers Allowance, housing and council tax benefit.

The court heard evidence that Burke had a job under the name of Paul Woods but had failed to declare that he was working.

The deception was uncovered during a joint investigation between the Department for Work and Pensions and Bedford Borough Council fraud investigators.

When shown a photograph of Burke, his employers informed investigators that they knew him as Paul Woods.

However, Burke continued to deny that he was working under a different name until confronted with forensic evidence which proved that handwriting by Burke and Woods was written by the same person.

Between September 2005 and October 2010, Burke stole £12,849.01 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and £18,997.59 in housing benefit and council tax benefit from the public purse, the court heard.

After the hearing, Cllr Shan Hunt, executive member for revenue and benefits, said: “This was a deliberate and carefully planned fraud by Mr Burke who tried to cover his tracks by using a false name and denied any wrong doing until the very last minute.

“But investigators were not deceived and obtained forensic evidence that proved his guilt so that Mr Burke was finally forced to admit to fraud.

“This case should be a warning to anyone planning to claim benefits they are not entitled to.

“No matter how cleverly fraudsters try to cover their tracks they will be caught out in the end and will face the prospect of a prison sentence.”