Fraud Defence Lawyers Glasgow
Unlike robbery, which involves actual or threatened violence and theft, which involves the taking of property without the consent of the true owner. Fraud involves an act of deception for personal gain – the key difference from theft being that the owner’s consent is given.
Charged with Fraud in Scotland?
Fraud differs from theft in that the person accused of committing the fraud is actually given the consent of the owner to take the goods, property or money, albeit this consent is given on the basis of a falsehood.
The accused does not need to make any actual financial gain from their actions, it is enough that they made representations which they knew were false, with the intent of making some gain.
Fraud takes many different forms and can be an extremely complex crime. There can be detailed financial and documentary evidence to consider, often dating back many years, if not decades. As such, it is vital to instruct an expert fraud lawyer if you have been accused of fraud.
Our fraud defence lawyers regularly defend clients charged with:
- Business fraud
- Copyright fraud
- HMRC & Customs investigations
- Fradulent trading
- Online, internet & computer fraud
- Pyramid scheme (‘Ponzi’) fraud
- ‘Boiler Room’ Fraud
- Insurance & pension fraud
- FCA investigations
Benefit Fraud Defence Lawyers
Benefit fraud is being taken increasingly seriously by the authorities. Benefit fraud is prosecuted under the Social Security Administration Act 1992, by the Department of Work and Pensions or HMRC.
The crime of benefit fraud is committed in one of two ways:
- By intentionally not reporting a change in your circumstances which affects your benefit entitlement or;
- Being dishonest in order to get more benefits than you are entitled to.
Your benefits may be stopped while your case is investigated, so it’s important to contact us as soon as possible.
What is benefit fraud?
Benefit fraud is a criminal offence which is committed through not reporting a change in your circumstances or being dishonest in order to receive benefits. It involves deliberately giving false information or not providing information to the Department of Work and Pensions or the Council.
You cannot usually commit fraud accidentally. It must be shown that your actions were deliberate and intentional and that you were aware of what you were doing.
If, after investigation, you are suspected of benefit fraud, you may be prosecuted and you may have to repay any benefit you have been overpaid. Sentencing in cases of benefit fraud can range from a fine to a considerable custodial sentence.
I have been asked to attend a ‘fraud investigation interview’, what does this involve?
This is an interview under caution where the fraud investigators will want to find out whether there is something concerning your benefits that the DWP or Council should have been informed of. If you have been asked to attend interview then the DWP will have found a discrepancy with your benefits and/or bank account.They will want to know whether you deliberately misled them and whether you did this in the knowledge that you would receive more benefits or keep existing benefits.
The interview should be treated in much the same way as a police interview, although it will be carried out by Fraud Investigators as opposed to the police. This means that during the interview you are only required to confirm personal details such as your age, date of birth and address. There is otherwise an absolute right to silence and you can choose to make no comment to all other questions you are asked. Nothing negative can be drawn from this.
It is not advisable to attempt to ‘charm’ your way out of any offence. It is often wise to err on the side of caution and make no comment as this cannot damage your position. A solicitor can be present with you during this interview. We attend these interviews on a weekly basis meaning that our solicitors are specialists in advising those accused of benefit fraud.
Failing to attend this interview may result in a suspension of your benefits.
What happens after this interview?
After you have been investigated you may be subject to prosecution and the matter may be reported to the Procurator Fiscal. The case will be referred to the Procurator Fiscal if:
- The overpayment is £2,000 or more,
- The overpayment is less than £2,000 but you have refused to accept an administration penalty or a caution,
- You have previously been convicted of benefit fraud,
- You aided or encouraged others in committing benefit fraud.
However, there are a number of factors which will be considered before deciding to prosecute. The Procurator Fiscal will firstly take into consideration the likeliness of the prosecution being successful. The amount of overpayment is another factor as is the way in which the fraud is committed. For example, if you forged documents or provided false details it is likely that you will face prosecution. Your age, health and personal circumstances will also be considered.
What do I do if I receive court papers for benefits fraud?
It is advisable that you get in contact with a solicitor immediately. Our solicitors have vast experience of representing those accused of benefit fraud. We can usually offer a free first appointment within 24 hours.
Cases of benefit fraud can be difficult for the prosecution to prove due to the large amount of historic paperwork involved. Pleading guilty to ‘get it out of the way’ is therefore not always a good idea. As benefit fraud is difficult to prove, the Procurator Fiscal often reduces the sum of the fraud significantly during negotiations.
It is important to look at whether you would have been entitled to any benefits at all had you disclosed your full circumstances to the DWP. If so, this amount can be offset against the figure they say you have not paid.
The prosecution will have to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that a person received state benefit in the knowledge that they were not entitled to it. The most common defence to benefit fraud is that the person was unaware that they were receiving benefits they should not be receiving.
Legal aid will ordinarily be available in benefits fraud cases. We can carry out a free case evaluation at your first appointment and complete legal aid papers with you.
Will I go to prison if convicted?
You should be aware that benefits fraud cases are dealt with seriously. However, prison sentences are the exception rather than the rule and in many cases the outcome can be a financial penalty or unpaid work in the community. Sentencing guidelines have been provided by Scottish case-law. The sentence will largely depend on the total overpayment.
For offences involving an overpayment of up to £5,000 a community service order has been stated as appropriate. However, where the figure is closer to £2,500 a non-custodial sentence or a fine may be considered.
In cases where the total overpayment is £5,000 - £20,000 it has been held by the court that community service may be sufficient if the figure is closer to £5,000. However, if the figure is closer to £20,000 then a ‘significant custodial sentence’ may be imposed. A custodial sentence of up to 12 months has been considered sufficient when the overpayment is under £20,000.
Where the overpayment is over £20,000 the case could be heard under solemn procedure. This could potentially mean that a custodial sentence of up to seven years could be passed.
Additionally, in cases where the fraud is organised and carried out by several participants each participant could face a custodial sentence of over two years.
It should be noted that these are just guidelines and that each case shall be considered on its own merits with its own unique factors taken into account when sentencing. There may be exceptional circumstances which will be considered by the judge and lead to a lesser sentence.
Click here to view case law outlining the way the courts will deal with such cases.
What happens to my benefits if I am convicted?
If convicted of benefit fraud your benefits may be reduced or stopped for up to 3 years depending on how many times you have committed fraud. However, this can only affect certain benefits known as ‘sanctionable benefits’. These sanctionable benefits include:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Industrial Death Benefit
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Industrial Injuries Reduced Earnings Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Retirement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Unemployability Supplement
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Housing/Council Tax Benefit
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
- War Disablement Pension
- War Widow’s Pension
- War Pension Unemployability Supplement
- War Pension Allowance for Lower Standard of Occupation
- Widowed Mother’s/Parent’s Allowance
- Widow’s Pension/Bereavement Allowance
- Working Tax Credit
Benefits which cannot be stopped or reduced include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Payment
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Christmas Bonus
- Council Tax Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Graduated Retirement Benefit
- Guardian’s Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Constant Attendance Allowance (where a Disablement Pension is payable)
- Industrial Injuries Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance (where a Disablement Pension is payable)
- Personal Independence Payment
- State Pension
- Social Fund Payments
- War Pension Constant Attendance Allowance
- War Pension Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance
- War Pension Mobility Supplement
Legal Aid Solicitors Glasgow
We are members of The Law Society of Scotland and are registered to provide Legal Aid by The Scottish Legal Aid Board. Legal Aid may be available in many cases.
24 Hour Help
We understand that being accused of a crime is a stressful experience. That’s why we provide 24 hour assistance for emergencies and effective representation should you require to appear before any court.
Criminal Defence Lawyers Glasgow
Contact Us Now - It’s never too soon to get in touch. Call us today on 01415529193 or use our online enquiry form. Our solicitors will deal with your enquiry in the strictest of confidence.