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Pattaya Daily News

26 February 2008 :: 17:02:09 pm 25270

Fraudulent expats beware! UK Targeting Fraud with Hi-Tech countermeasures

Some unscrupulous ex-pats living in Thailand believe they can get away with daylight robbery when it comes to falsely claiming benefits from their home governments, but the long arm of the law, especially in the UK, is now equipped with advanced technology and is about to scotch such scams in no uncertain terms.
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Equipped with more extensive powers, UK authorities are now cross-referencing data bases of banks, mortgage companies, utility companies and even student loans, signifying that defrauders scam potential is being radically curtailed. This will be considerably enhanced if the British government goes ahead with its latest proposals to make a DNA database of all UK residents!

As regards, UK citizens living in Thailand and falsely claiming benefits, the on-line news portal of Media Wales Ltd, icWales, recently reported the case of Yorkshireman, David Martindale, 63, who received a six-month suspended jail term for claiming £27,000 in benefits while actually living in Thailand with his Thai wife.

Authorities in Wales, in particular, with the amount of recoverable overpayments reaching £6.3 million, are redoubling efforts to bring fraudsters to justice. icWales reported a whole litany of individual cases of those who thought they could flaunt the law and get away with it. Most cases related to individuals declaring themselves to be unemployed and claiming income support, council tax relief and housing benefits when they were, in fact, working. Between April and January in 2008, 252 people have been prosecuted so far for working while claiming benefits.

During this period, 28 suspended sentences have been handed out, three community orders and five supervision orders. Another 760 people have accepted cautions and a further 184 have accepted administrative penalties.

Tal Davies, Investigations Manager for Swansea Council, maintained fraudsters had to devise steadily more elaborate plots to cover their tracks. However, Davies warned that the authorities are one step ahead of them and the fraudsters should not be complacent. Davies said Hopefully cases like this send out the message to those who have committed benefit fraud that it is a crime and they will be caught. These people are taking money from the public purse and we will do our upmost to bring them to book…. Benefits are for the needy, not the greedy.”

Two high profile cases were Robert Minns and Glenda Askew. Robert Minns, of Townhill, Swansea, was imprisoned for a year after falsely claiming nearly £39,296.81 in benefits. Minns maintained he needed the money to pay for hire cars to visit his sick grandson in Bristol. However, the false benefit claims began at least two years before the child fell ill and continued for five years, until a member of the public informed on him in October 2006. When confronted by investigators, Minns showed no remorse and boasted that it was easy to do and that was why he continued defrauding for five years.

In the other reported case, that of Glenda Askew, of Clase, Swansea, she received a four months custodial sentence after she defrauded authorities out of £11,000, pretending her husband was dead. Her scam was revealed after she attempted to avoid a speeding fine by pretending she had also died!

These cases highlight intensified efforts on the part of authorities. Lest UK defrauders living in Thailand think they can swindle the government and escape scot free, they should remember that Britain has extradition treaties with Thailand and regularly sends investigative teams over here to track down offenders. One fillip, is that should anyone overhear frank confessions in local bars, the South Wales Department of Work and Pensions is very eager to hear of such cases relating to citizens originally from their area and are no doubt prepared to rewards for such information.

As an aside, fear of discovery may also be among the reasons why individuals with an overbearing guilty conscience are prone to commit suicide, especially in Pattaya. This is especially true if they consider they cannot return to the UK for fear of arrest.

Reporter : Warina Punyawan   Photo : Internet   Category : Tourism News

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