October 2013 Benefit Fraudsters Face 10 Year Prison Sentences

Benefit and tax credit fraud are to be subject to a maximum 10 year prison sentence.

Guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service sets out the approach prosecutors should take in deciding the appropriate offences to use in benefits and tax credits cases and says that, where the alleged offending merits such an approach and prosecutors anticipate a very substantial prison sentence, they should charge under the Fraud Act 2006 which carries a maximum sentence of ten years, rather than the Social Security Administration Act 1992 which carries a maximum sentence of seven years.
The guidance also sets out the factors that prosecutors should take into account when advising the court on the relevant ‘aggravating factors’ including -
whether the fraud was professionally planned
whether the fraud was carried out over a significant period of time
whether multiple frauds occurred (multiple frauds include where one false declaration or a failure to disclose a change of circumstances results in multiple payments)
use of a false or stolen identity
relevant previous convictions/cautions/previous out of court disposals for benefit fraud
an attempt to conceal or dispose of evidence
abuse of a position of trust and
substantial consequential loss to public funds

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