UK Benefit Fraud investigators have recently enjoyed more success in the fight against benefit cheats in Spain.
In one of the latest cases to go to prosecution, Debbie Williamson from Rotherham was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court to 18 months immediate imprisonment for having stolen UK benefits between 2004 and 2009.
Ms Williamson had been claiming a number of non-exportable benefits from the UK, including income support.
She denied having any connection with Spain, but investigators established she owned property in Valencia, had made regular cash withdrawals abroad and had her daughter in a local Spanish school.
In total Ms. Williamson stole £42,558.72 from the British taxpayer by claiming benefits she was not entitled to after her circumstances changed.
Ms. Williamson is just one of many cases that make up the estimated £79 million of benefit fraud committed abroad.
Although most people claiming UK benefits abroad do so legally, Spain is one of the countries where most UK benefit fraud is committed.
In many of these cases, the person has purposefully not informed the UK authorities of a change in their circumstances.
Anyone in receipt of a UK State Pension or benefit has the responsibility to keep the department paying their benefit up to date with any changes that could affect their payment, no matter how small the change seems.
More information on UK benefits in general and on which ones can and cannot be received whilst living in Spain can be found on www.direct.gov.uk.
If you know of someone committing UK benefit fraud whilst living in Spain, such as claiming a non-exportable benefit, working in Spain while in receipt of UK incapacity benefit, or claiming benefit as a single person but living with a partner, you can help to protect the taxpayers’ money.
A free and confidential Benefit Fraud Hotline is available in Spain – call 900 554 440 or click on http://campaigns.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/benefit-thieves/english.asp to help UK investigators close the net on the benefit thieves.