An OAP was today jailed after he admitted a £45,000 benefit scam.
US citizen Robert Hopkins told the Department for Work and Pensions and council bosses he lived with his wife but that she had no income – allowing him to rake in pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
But in reality she had a £33,000 a year job with Angus Council – part of which involved her advising clients with their benefits claims.
Hopkins carried on his scam for almost three years – £15,000 a year in handouts he wasn’t entitled.
Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told Dundee Sheriff Court that Hopkins’ wife took the care manager job with Angus Council in April 2012 – but that Hopkins hid her new job from benefit chiefs.
She said: “As a result of intelligence received by the DWP they commenced an investigation into the accused that uncovered his wife had been working full time as a care manager with Angus Council since April 2012.
“Her colleagues who confirmed that she worked with people with learning disabilities and that her role involved helping her clients with their benefits claims.
“Her payslips from this period were collected and these confirmed her income varied between around £2,500 and £2,800 in hand per month.
“Had the accused declared this to Angus Council then he would not have been entitled to council tax or housing benefit and had he declared this to the DWP he would not have been entitled to Pension Credit.
“The accused was interviewed on 20 October 2015.
“He admitted that his partner was working, that he had not told the agencies of this and that he knew that the fact she was working would have affected his entitlement to the benefits.
“In explaining why he had not told them, he referenced an earlier incident which had occurred in 2009.
“During this incident he had failed to notify the benefits agencies that his wife was working. The DWP became aware of this within a matter of weeks and so had written to the accused advising him that they had uncovered this information.
“This led the accused to then declare to them retrospectively that she had started work and he paid back the overpaid funds to them.
“The accused told the interviewers that the reason he had not informed them that his wife had recommenced work was that he had assumed that they would find this out of their own accord as they had done in 2009.
“When questioned further on this the accused asked for the interview to be terminated so that he could speak to a solicitor.
“He was interviewed for a second time on November 12 2015.
“He told the interviewers that he had not sought legal advice as he had ‘done nothing wrong’
“The interview recommenced for a short time before the accused asked to leave.
“As a result of the accused’s actions, he obtained £13,161 in housing benefit, £1,457 in council tax benefit and £32,000 in pension credit to which he was not entitled.”
Hopkins, 76, of Westhaven Gardens, Arbroath, pleaded guilty on indictment to two charges under the Social Security Administration Act committed between April 1 2012 and October 2015.
Defence solicitor Billy Rennie said: “He didn’t intimate the changes in his wife’s employment to the authorities.
“He receives nothing now – he is a US citizen and hasn’t put enough contributions in despite being here for 30 years.
“He could work and has an electrical degree from the US and in computing from Dundee.”
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael jailed Hopkins for eight months.
He said: “This was a significant amount defrauded from the state.
“It is in effect a fraud on all the members of the public.”