British Embassy Press Release:
Feeling the pinch is no excuse to commit benefit fraud - call the hotline and help stop a fraudster
Financial hardship is no excuse for claiming benefits you are not entitled to, benefit officials have warned, as they encourage Brits who suspect a fraudster to call the hotline in Spain.
Whether you live in Spain or the UK there's no avoiding the current economic crisis but taxpayers' money should go to those who need it most, not to a small percentage of Brits who have chosen to fund a life in Spain at the UK taxpayer's expense.
Call the benefit fraud hotline 900 554 440
That's why the Department for Work and Pensions is promoting the benefit fraud hotline in Spain – and asking people who suspect they know a cheat to call 900 554 440.
The vast majority of people who claim benefits do so honestly and are sick and tired of putting up with the small minority who don't. The benefit fraud hotline in Spain is there so that people can do their bit to make sure something is done about the small percentage of fraudsters. Shockingly, it's estimated that benefit fraud abroad costs UK taxpayers 43 million pounds per year - and Spain ranks as one of the top destinations for benefit thieves.
One rogue claimant who wrongly thought Spain was a safe haven to commit benefit fraud was Ronald Bunce. He had been claiming Income Support and Housing and Council Tax benefit since 1991 however a change in his circumstances in 2007 and his failure to declare these changes meant he eventually fell foul of the law.
An anonymous allegation led Work and Pensions investigators to discover that Mr. Bunce was not quite as strapped for cash as he made out. In 2007, following the death of his mother in 2004, he sold her property in Ealing, west London, for a handsome sum of £350,000 but failed to declare his newfound wealth to benefit officials. Further investigations revealed that he went on to buy a quarter of a million pound property in the UK, as well as a Spanish villa complete with swimming pool in the Mazarrón area of Murcia, which he was renting out to holidaymakers for as much as €500 per week.
Not only was Mr. Bunce stealing from the British taxpayer since the change in his circumstances in 2007, but on top of that he had selfishly been using his council property for storage purposes, depriving another family really in need of housing.
In April Mr. Bunce was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court in London to an immediate nine months' in prison for his actions to defraud the public purse.
There are probably many more cases like this out there. That's why Department for Work and Pensions is asking anyone who suspects others of committing benefit fraud whilst living in Spain to call the free and confidential Benefit Fraud hotline in Spain on 900 554 440 or submit a report online at: https://secure.dwp.gov.uk/benefitfraud/ .
The system is completely anonymous and you don't need to give your name and details, but the more information you can give about the alleged fraudster, the easier it is for officials to identify the person and investigate the case.
Benefit fraud includes someone claiming a benefit which is only available to UK residents, such as income support or pension credit, or someone claiming a benefit as a single person but living with a partner. You can find more information on benefits and which ones can and cannot be received whilst living in Spain at www.direct.gov.uk.