Man, 61, who claimed £13k in benefits caught by data matching techniques

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A Wilstead man will have to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work as part of a 12-month Community Punishment Order after dishonestly obtaining more than £13,000 in housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Ian Barker, 61, of Wisson Court, was sentenced at Luton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, August 12 after claiming the money while failing to declare the existence of bank accounts in which he held savings in excess of £24,000.

Using data matching techniques, fraud investigators from Bedford Borough Council were able to identify which bank accounts the money was held in and to obtain copies of these statements.

The District Judge ordered Barker to complete the 200 hours of unpaid work while on a 12-month Community Punishment Order, as well as paying the council’s costs of £465 and a victim surcharge of £60.

The court heard that Barker had already repaid the £13,000 in full prior to the hearing. In sentencing him, the District Judge warned Barker that he was “on the cusp of receiving a custodial sentence”.

Councillor Shan Hunt, Executive Member for Revenue and Benefits, said: “Mr Barker claimed benefits he wasn’t entitled to while he had thousands of pounds hidden away in a bank account he thought the council would never find out about. However, the Council used its powers to obtain information from banks and to compare different sources of data to catch him out in this deception. He has now quite rightly been convicted of a crime and has had to repay the money he wasn’t entitled to.”