Epsom magistrates have sentenced a company director to eight months in prison at after being convicted of housing b...
Epsom magistrates have sentenced a company director to eight months in prison at after being convicted of housing benefit fraud. The jail term was imposed despite the fact that the defendant, Clive Manley, has now paid back the money he stole over 12 months from March 1996 until March 1997.
The court heard that Mr Manley set in motion a complicated process of deception, eventually defrauding Epsom & Ewell BC out of£12,973.43. The scheme involved pretending to rent a house in Epsom, which he owned, from a company called PC Property Developments Ltd in which he was the major shareholder. False rent books and a fictitious tenancy agreement from this company were submitted to the council as evidence of entitlement to housing benefit and as a result Mr Manley was awarded over£100 per week in housing benefit. The first payment was made in April 1996.
A spokesman from Epsom & Ewell BC's benefits section said: 'The council carries out regular checks on housing benefit claims, the majority of which are genuine and legitimate. This is the first time a member of the public has received a prison sentence for committing fraud against Epsom & Ewell BC where the council has carried out the prosecution itself, although we have secured non-custodial convictions for housing benefit fraud in the past.
'In March 1998 Mr. Manley's claim was checked against the Land Registry database as part of a routine exercise to detect fraud. This showed that he was co-owner of the property at 55 Kinross Avenue and a company search revealed that he was also a director of PC Property Developments Ltd. Mr Manley was interviewed by council officers in May last year and admitted that he had made false statements in order to illegally obtain housing benefit. Since 1995 the authority has saved taxpayers over£1,000,000 through the successful detection of housing benefit fraud and further cases are due to be heard later in the year.'