Issued by City of York Council
An investigation carried out by City of York Council has helped to tackle a case of fraud in the city, which almost cheated the benefit system of £56,000 – sending a strong message to fraudsters that dishonesty does not pay.
Ms Peggy Scaum, 65, of Burton Green, Clifton, claimed Housing and Council Tax Benefit, and Department for Works & Pensions benefits as a single person for many years.
A joint investigation into the benefit claims of Ms Scaum was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, and the Department for Work and Pensions following information that she was living with her partner.
During the course of the investigation Peggy Scaum was interviewed under caution and admitted that all her benefit applications had been dishonest from the outset of her claim and that her partner, who was in paid employment, had lived with her since at least 2001.
The investigation concluded with Peggy Scaum pleading guilty to all charges at York Crown Court on Friday 5 April. The court heard that Ms Scaum had £15,000 in her bank accounts when the fraud came to light in 2011.
The judge told Ms Scaum while he gave her credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity he could not ignore the aggravating factors of the fraud which spanned ten years. The judge highlighted that these crimes involved a number of benefits and that her claims had been dishonest from the outset.
As a result of her fraudulent activity Scaum was overpaid £30,666.01 in Housing Benefit, £6,9991.58 in Council Tax Benefit, £10,881.97 in Pension Credits and £8,338.20 in Income Support.
Peggy Scaum was sentenced to nine months in prison. The judge advised Ms Scaum that the sentence was not only a punishment to her but should also act as a deterrent to others who may consider claiming benefits they were not entitled to.
A spokesperson for Veritau said: “The benefit system is designed to support those in genuine need and sends a strong message to those few that dishonesty does not pay and can result in a custodial sentence.
“This is another good result in the fight on fraud against the public purse with what has been a protracted fraud committed by Peggy Scaum. We encourage anyone with any in formation on fraudulent activity to phone the fraud hotline on 01904 552935 or email [email protected].”
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