A Richmondshire District Council investigation has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a serious case of fraud - which deprived the public purse of almost £800.
David Howard (aged 42) of Bedale Road, Scotton, submitted a claim for Council Tax Reduction (CTR) in the name of his mother and supported the application with a tenancy agreement that was subsequently found to be fake. An investigation into the CTR claim was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, following suspicions raised by council staff in the benefit and council tax departments.
The claim and tenancy agreement claimed that Mr. Howard’s mother lived at the property by herself. However the investigation proved that Mr. Howard and his wife were also living at the property.
As a result of his fraudulent activity his mother was awarded £770.61 in Council Tax Reduction, which she was not entitled to. His mother was unaware of her son's fraudulent application.
Howard pleaded guilty to all charges at Darlington Magistrates Court this week (Monday December 17) – he was fined £1250 and ordered to pay £770.61 compensation, £252 costs and a £125 victim surcharge.
Councillor Yvonne Peacock, Richmondshire District Council Leader said: “Council tax payments support a range of vital services that assist and protect local residents. This fraud was a calculated attempt to reduce the amount of council tax they had to pay for the property. Attempts to defraud the council in this way deprive our community of much needed funds.
“We encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email email@example.com.”