STAFF at Worthing Borough Council have issued a zero tolerance warning on benefit fraud, after recovering a total of £300,000 last year.
Their success is being highlighted in a BBC crime series, Saints and Scroungers, which was shown yesterday and today, revealing a series of cases amid what is proving a rapidly-increasing problem.
Among those featuring on the programme include Lee Brown, who received an 18-month jail sentence in 2012 for major benefit fraud. The 47-year-old from Worthing, along with his wife Heidi, 44, (who was sentenced to 12 months) were responsible for falsely claiming more than £118,000. Another case, that of Kevin Power, from Worthing, is also raised in the BBC series. The 52 year-old received a nine-week sentence last summer, after falsely claiming £12,000 and failing to fully declare homes in Richmond and Twickenham.
Terry Cutler, finance manager for Worthing Borough Council welcomed the progress on fraud recovery. He said: “The BBC approached us because of our excellent track record in fraud recovery. We worked with the BBC on two cases, two cases that are from the several hundred we investigate every year. We thought this was an excellent way to communicate to our public that we won’t and don’t tolerate benefit fraud in any way. Benefit fraudsters aren’t just prosecuted as the money taken by them from tax payers is always recovered. For example, last year £300,000 was recovered from fraudsters in Worthing and we are on target to recover a similar figure this financial year. What’s more the amount of fraud case investigated has doubled in four years. Each officer in the fraud team is dealing with some 60 cases at any one time.”