British team tracking down benefit fraudsters living it up on the Costas

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THE British Consulate in Madrid has warned Britons choosing the expat life to make sure they inform the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of their plans if they are in receipt of any benefits. Failure to do so could result in a criminal offence.
“Reporting a change in your circumstances such as moving abroad or buying a property is your responsibility,” said a spokesperson for the Consulate. “By failing to do so you could be committing benefit fraud, even if you do not live in Spain but have property here.”
The Consulate points to the case of Cardiff man Dean Stuart Ahmed, who, while claiming benefits in the UK as a single man with disabilities, spent 15 years building up a portfolio of luxury properties in Murcia and in South Wales, which he then rented out, bringing in sizeable sums of cash. He was caught, and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison, and his properties and assets were seized.
The DWP believes benefit fraud amongst UK expats is such a significant problem that they have a dedicated team working on tracking down those abusing the system while living it up in the sun.
“More than £7 million (€9.95 million) has so far been recovered from British benefit thieves living here,” says the Consulate. “Much of this success is thanks to the free hotline which members of the public can call anonymously to report suspected benefit thieves.
“If you know someone who you suspect is committing benefit fraud in Spain, please call the free and anonymous hotline on 900 55 44 40. The lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. You will be doing your bit to make sure that benefits – money that comes from taxpayers – go to the people who really need them.”

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