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Couple forced to sell up French property

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Latest News from the Diss Express, dissexpress.co.uk, @diss_express on Twitter

A couple have been forced to sell their property in France after they were imposed a confiscation order for £23,000 following an investigation Mid Suffolk District Council fraud staff.

Darren and Susan Ward. formerly of Stradbroke, dishonestly claimed more than £35,000 in Housing and Council Tax, Benefit and Income Support from the council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The order was imposed when sentenced in December 2012, resulting in £23,000 being repaid to the council.

Leader of the Mid Suffolk District Council, Derrick Haley, said: “This case categorically shows that fraud does not pay.

“Working through the appropriate legal channels, Mid Suffolk will pursue fraudsters to recover their ill-gotten gains.

“Benefit thieves take money intended for the most vulnerable in our society, which is why we are determined to ensure those who attempt to cheat the system are brought to justice and don’t get away with it.

“The case of the Wards shows just how serious we and the courts are in this regard.”

In August 2007, Mr Ward began claiming Income Support, before claiming Housing Benefit from June 2008 when he claimed to live at a privately rented property, as a single parent with three dependent children, in Stock, Essex.

However, Mr Ward was residing in France with his children at the time, and did not return to the UK until April 2009.

Mrs Ward was living at the claim address in Essex and was employed at HM Treasury, travelling to France to spend time with her family at weekends.

On his return to the UK Mr Ward and his family moved to a property rented privately in Stradbroke.

He maintained his claim as a single parent, while Mrs Ward continued working at HM Treasury.

Information supplied to the Department for Work and Pensions, Mid Suffolk District Council and Chelmsford Borough Council proved to be false, as well as counterfeit tenancy agreements.

After an investigation by the council, it was concluded claims put forward since 2007 were inaccurate and that Mrs Ward was aware her husband was claiming false benefit.

It was at an earlier hearing that Mr Ward pleaded guilty to six offences of fraud and two offences of counterfeiting and forgery.

Mrs Ward pleaded guilty to four offences of fraud.

 

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