York Council investigated 188 fraud cases last year

According to figures published by the City of York Council, it investigated over 188 cases of potential fraud against the authority during the last financial year.

The vast majority of these involved bogus attempts to claim Council Tax reductions. 13 involved attempted social housing frauds.

Of the 188 cases investigated, fraud was confirmed in 109 cases.

The potential loss of income to the authority was £255,185 pa.

The Council employs 13 anti fraud staff at a cost of around £270,000 pa.

CCTV appeal following a fraud on Gale Lane

Police have issued CCTV of a woman they would like to speak to following a fraud in York.

It happened at the McColl’s shop on Gale Lane, Acomb. A woman picked up a bank card from the shop counter and then used the card to make fraudulent payment.

It happened on the afternoon of February 1 and the investigation has so far been unable to identify the woman pictured by CCTV.

Officers are asking members of the public to get in touch if they recognise the person in the images as they believe they will have information that will help the investigation.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Philip Kennedy or email Philip.kennedy@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12200018475. Contact details:Phil Kennedy – #1390
Philip.kennedy@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk | 101Incident reference:12200018475

Man fined £700 for misuse of blue badge in Duncombe Place

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of Blue Badge fraud in York city centre.

Christopher Wilson (aged 46 of Fox Howe, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough) was found misusing a family member’s Blue Badge in York.

Mr Wilson was seen by a Civil Enforcement Officer, parked on Duncombe Place, near York Minster in August 2019.

During the course of the investigation, conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, Mr Wilson was interviewed under caution and admitted that he was the driver of the vehicle displaying the Blue Badge.

He confirmed that the badge holder was not present at any point of the journey and was at home in Middlesbrough. Mr Wilson and his wife had driven to York that day for a social occasion and were running late for a restaurant reservation, when he decided to use the Blue Bade to park on yellow lines.

Mr Wilson was sentenced by York Magistrates on 28 January 2020 after pleading guilty by post and apologising for his actions. He received a fine and was ordered to pay court costs and victim surcharge, totaling £701.

20 months suspended jail sentence for £86,000 social care fraud

A York man has been given a 20 month suspended sentence for a case of fraud which deprived the public purse of over £86k, in the first social care fraud prosecution by Veritau and City of York Council

Neil Long (aged 54 of Leighton Croft, York) failed to inform City of York Council, who funded his mother’s social care, when his parents’ property was sold in 2014. The case was investigated by Veritau, City of York Council’s counter fraud provider, and successfully prosecuted by the council.

This is the first prosecution of a social care fraud by the council’s legal department and an area of development for the counter fraud team. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) found that in 2018/19 losses due to adult social care fraud cases nationally had risen by 104% from the previous year.

City of York Council received information that Mr Long, the financial representative for his mother, had sold his parents’ property in 2014 and received £198,000 that he had not declared despite receiving social care funding.

The investigation found that on two separate occasions during 2015, Mr Long informed the council that his parents were still joint owners of the property and that his father still lived there.

During this period, the council spent £86,000 on social care for Mr Long’s mother, which has now been collected in full, as a result of joint working between Veritau and financial investigators from City of York’s Trading Standards team.

Appearing at York Magistrates Court on Tuesday 8 October 2019, Mr Long plead guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation.

The case was referred to York Crown Court for sentencing on Wednesday 4 December 2019, where Mr Long was given a 20 month suspended sentence and 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to repay all council costs of over £1,100 and an £80 victim surcharge.

When sentencing, the judge stated that a significant factor in mitigation was the repayment of £86,000 that Mr Long made to the council.

Sharon Houlden, Corporate Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care at City of York Council, said: “Adult social care funds support many individuals within the city and fraud like this reduces our ability to help people and make meaningful differences in their lives. We work hard to protect public money and take all reports of fraud seriously.”

Any members of the public with information on fraudulent activity are encouraged to phone the anonymous fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247.

A 24 hour voicemail facility is available, or you can email counter.fraud@veritau.co.uk.

Counter fraud team saves taxpayers £328,275 in York

Counter fraud work by the York Council saved taxpayers over £300,000 in York during the last year.

The figure is revealed in a report which will be considered by a Council committee next week.

The report reveals that it received 345 reports of possible fraudulent activity.

42% of the cases related to fraud in social care. 22% in Council tax/Rates, 18% related to housing fraud and 11 concerned benefit claims.

Officials also investigated the misuse of blue badges for parking. Officials claim that 84% of investigations were successful with two people prosecuted and a further 10 cautioned.

Three false applications for school placements were also halted.

In 2018/19 the team identified over £201,000 of losses to the council, for social care fraud. This was a 19% increase from the previous financial year. Over £137,000 of savings were produced which represents a substantial rise compared to 2017/18 (£38k).

Two people were prosecuted for fraudulently claiming monies, from the York Financial Assistance Scheme, that they did not require.

York man sentenced for Council Tax fraud

D4NT09 Council Tax bill 2013/2014 for property dwelling band F with 25% discount for sole adult resident

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a serious case of Council Tax fraud of almost £6,000.

Christopher Cuinu (aged 52) of Blossom Street, York, claimed Council Tax Support on the basis of being unemployed, obtaining £5882.41 from the public purse over a six year period.

Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, carried out an investigation into his claim for a reduction to his council tax liability.

The investigation was conducted following claims that Mr Cuinu owned and managed a café in York for a considerable period of time and fraudulently sought unemployment benefits.
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Couple sentenced for Blue Badge fraud in York

6 caught short fined

An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of disabled Blue Badge fraud.

On 23 October, York Magistrates sentenced a couple from Malton to a 12-month conditional discharge each and ordered each to pay £200 in costs and £20 in surcharges.

David Wade (age 54 of Howe Court, Norton, Malton) was found using a family member’s blue badge for his own benefit in York city centre in April 2018, and later provided false information to the council on the matter. Marie Wade, (aged 51 of Howe Court) was found to have provided false information to the council regarding her husband’s actions.

An investigation into the misuse was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service. A Blue Badge can only be used when the badge holder is present or being picked up or dropped off at the point where the car is parked displaying the badge.

In April 2018, a council Civil Enforcement Officer encountered Mr Wade using a blue badge in central York. Mr Wade claimed he was picking up the badge holder and his wife who were nearby. However, he drove away after he was issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.

Later that day Mrs Wade called the council to complain that her husband had been parked waiting to pick up her and the badge holder who were now both left behind in York. Several weeks later the husband and wife submitted paperwork which repeated this allegation in an attempt to cancel the parking fine.

During Veritau’s investigation Mr Wade admitted that his wife and the badge holder were not in York when he displayed the badge and that at the time Mrs Wade was at their home in Malton. He told investigators that he wanted to visit the city centre during his lunch hour and to save time, drove in and displayed the badge. Mrs Wade admitted to investigators that she made the phone call to the council because she was worried about the consequences, should her husband’s actions be investigated further.

Mr and Mrs Wade pleaded guilty to all charges at York Magistrates’ Court on 23 October 2018.

Anyone with any information on fraudulent activity should please phone the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email fraud@york.gov.uk .

Magistrates sentence six for urinating in public

York magistrates have sentenced six people for urinating in public with a fine of £2541, following City of York Council and North Yorkshire Police action against alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.

James Benjamin Moore (aged 27 of Woolnough Avenue, York) was sentenced yesterday (23 October) at York Magistrates Court for urinating against the wall next to a taxi rank in St Saviourgate York at 03:50hrs on Friday 20 July 2018. Mr Moore was noticeably intoxicated and continued to urinate despite noticing a police officer’s presence, when he then became increasingly aggressive when the officer asked for his name. Mr Moore pleaded guilty and was given a total sentence of  £447.

Jonathon Roy Alderson (aged 37 of Roebuck Ridge, Barnsley) pleaded guilty after urinating against private property near York Racecourse at 19:30 on the evening of Saturday 28 July 2018. Mr Alderson, who apologised upon seeing the police officer, pleaded guilty to urinating in public and was given a total sentence of £478.

On 23 October 2018, the court heard that Ellis Alex Parker (aged 32 years of Horsforth, Leeds) was found by police officers at 19:45 hours, Saturday 28 July 2018, urinating against a wall near Albermarle Road, York. When approached by the officer, Mr Parker became aggressive and began swearing and initially refused to give any personal details. Mr Parker pleaded guilty by post and York Magistrates ordered him to pay a total of £460.

The court heard that Harry Edward Murphy (aged 18 of Stammergate, Ripon) and Owen Taylor Abbott (aged 18 years of Clotherholme Road, Ripon) were seen by a PCSO urinating against the shutters of Thomas Cook, Clifford Street, York in the late hours of Wednesday 15 August 2018. When approached, one of the males was apologetic for the offence, for which they were both cautioned and reported for summons. Both defendants pleaded guilty at York Magistrates court, Mr Murphy sentenced to pay £380 while Mr Abbott was sentenced to pay £409.

York Magistrates also heard a guilty plea from Tyler Anne Mathias (aged 23 of Richmond Drive, Goole) for urinating next to St Chad’s Church on Campleshon Road, York. Ms Mathias was visibly intoxicated when approached by the officer at 18:00 hours Saturday 25 August 2018, where she was no further than 200 hundred metres from toilet facilities at the racecourse. In mitigation, she said that she had been suffering from a water infection at the time and had to sprint across the road. Ms Mathias was sentenced to pay £367.

“I’m grateful to our partners North Yorkshire Police and the court for supporting our enforcement action. We will continue to prosecute individuals displaying alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in the city.”

Two years prison for developer who defrauded £50,000 from flood victims on Huntington Road

A property developer who fraudulently took almost £50,000 from victims of the 2015 floods has been sentenced to 24 months imprisonment at York Crown Court yesterday (7 August 2018).

Owen Danter, aged 40 of 78 Munstead Way, Welton Brough, East Yorkshire, was the sole director of OTD Development Ltd before he voluntarily liquidated the company on 20 April 2017.

He was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment in relation to the 12 charges of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading for which he had previously pleaded guilty on 19 June 2018.

The charges related to building work by the defendants at two neighbouring addresses on Huntington Road, which both suffered extensive flooding in December 2015.

Both properties had to be vacated by the owners due to the extent of the flood damage.

In June 2016, Mr Danter was employed to carry out the required repairs at both addresses, and by agreement, some additional building work.

At both properties goods were paid for but not supplied. At one property Mr Danter issued nine invoices with a total value of £35,063.82 and to the other he issued four invoices with a total value of £14,483.

On four occasions Mr Danter requested payment be made into a different bank account, because he claimed, hiis bank account had been hacked. He provided alternative bank account details which were his mother’s. The bank confirmed there was no such hacking incident.

By late February 2017, the work was not finished, despite completion dates of November 2016 and December 2016 being previously given, leaving both properties uninhabitable.

In December 2016, Mr Danter disappeared for several days, claiming to have suffered exhaustion and a breakdown, but returned to work.

In February 2017, Mr Danter left the addresses for good, claiming he had suffered a complete breakdown. Between June 2016 and February 2017 both consumers were invoiced and paid for goods and services which did not materialise.

When Mr Danter was challenged about it he gave a variety of reasons – that the articles had been ordered, or that the articles had been paid for or that the articles had been delivered and were in his storage facility.

At interview with Trading Standards officers, Mr Danter admitted his management of the company was poor and that he had taken on too much work and had been involved with four other neighbouring properties. He also explained he had been suffering from depression and was dependent on medication.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, executive member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “Deliberately taking people’s money and not carrying out the work would have a significant impact on most people. But to knowingly inflict that on residents who were in a vulnerable situation following the 2015 floods is far worse. This prosecution shows that we will do our utmost to protect residents from unscrupulous traders.

“Anyone wanting to report poor quality work or unfair trading practices should call the Consumer Helpline on 0345 4040 506.”

HHJudge Hickey told the court: “The deception period was 28 August 2016 to 10 February 2017. The victim personal statements and photos of dilapidation make sober viewing.”

York Council fraud levels revealed

The Councils auditors are cracking down on Council Tax discounts with 11 cases currently under investigation following a “data matching exercise”.  These concern bogus “single person discount” claims.

A report reveals that the auditors had received 58 referrals for potential Council Tax/Non Domestic Rates fraud.

“There are currently 30 ongoing investigations into Council Tax and non domestic rates fraud.

The council has prosecuted two people for council tax fraud this year including the longest running single person discount fraud ever detected at the authority – 17 years.

In addition, 3 people have been cautioned for council tax fraud offences and 5 people have received warnings”.

The fraud team have completed 26 investigations into potential Council Tax Support fraud to date. The team has produced over £13k in savings thus far. There are currently 32 cases under investigation. To date one person has been cautioned and 10 people were issued formal warnings following investigations in this area.

Other areas of concern are

  • social care where there are 16 investigations in progress.
  • 14 cases of housing fraud – making false claims to secure accommodation – are underway.
  • The financial assistance scheme where 19 cases are being investigated
  • Parking and blue badge misuse. In 2017/18 the council prosecuted two people, cautioned 12 people and issued 30 warnings for disabled badge or parking permit misuse
  • Education – making false statements to gain entry to a school – 2 cases.

The report will be discussed at a meeting taking place on Wednesday

Dreamwell couple ordered to pay £917,287

A husband and wife from Leeds convicted of consumer protection offences against vulnerable people have been ordered to pay back £917,287 under the Proceeds of Crime Act following a hearing at Leeds Crown Court.

Claire Wray (aged 38) and Paul Wray (aged 51, both of Clayton Wood Close, Leeds) both received prison sentences in March 2017 following their convictions. They mis-sold mattresses, beds and mobility equipment to elderly consumers through their company Dreamwell Limited.

Claire Wray, the sole director of the company, received 12 months in prison after being found guilty of misleading, banned and aggressive commercial practices, and money laundering. She was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years. Her husband, Paul Wray, company secretary for Dreamwell Ltd, was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment for illegal commercial practices in July 2016 and was disqualified from being a company director for nine years.

Recorder Iqbal QC ordered that the proceeds of crime confiscation order is to be paid within 3 months or the Wrays would face a further 6 years imprisonment.  He also ordered that compensation totalling £20,757 was to be paid to the Wray’s victims from the confiscated monies.

The couple was arrested on 9 December 2014 following over 50 complaints which triggered an extensive operation over an 18-month period by the National Trading Standards Yorkshire & the Humber Regional Investigations Team, based at City of York Council and the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team based with West Yorkshire.
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