Punishment for Benefit Fraud
What are the punishments for being convicted of Benefit Fraud?
If an individual is found to have committed benefit fraud against the UK taxpayer and the UK state, the punishment depends on the severity of the fraud committed. The accused can either be handed down a fine or a sentence of imprisonment. In all cases the accused will have to pay back all the money that they have defrauded from the UK taxpayer. This is on top of having a criminal record, which might damage employment prospects later in life, and facing having a confiscation order lodged against them and having their home or their possessions (or in some cases both) taken away from them.
Administrative Penalty fine
The fine has the technical name of an Administrative Penalty and is set at around 30% of the total amount that is owed to the state. This fine is imposed on the accused with no negotiation and is placed on top of the mandatory requirement that they pay the full amount they owe back. It should be noted that the accused does not have to admit their guilt to be offered the option of a fine, and that the Department of Work and Pensions will usually offer the accused the option of a fine if they believe there is sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court.
Prison sentences for benefit fraud
If a prosecution is handed down, it will typically be under the Theft Act 1978, the Social Security Administration Act 1992 or the Fraud Act 2006. A prison sentence is only brought when the period of the fraud was very long, the amount defrauded was so great, the act of fraud was extremely barefaced or the accused was in a position of trust. The severity of any prison sentence must always be judged on the particular details of the case alone. The state, and a large number of its citizens, view benefit fraud as a serious offence and there are large amounts of funding given over to the elimination through prosecution of what are termed as ‘benefit cheats.’
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