Brit expat social security cheats nabbed by international team

Published:  18 Sep at 6 PM
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Thousands of Brit expats living and working overseas have been caught illegally claiming British social security benefits.

Millions of pounds’ worth of social security benefits have been fraudulently claimed by British expats living and working overseas, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. An investigation by the department along with international fraud specialists has resulted in a record amount of £1.1 billion being reclaimed, with expats living and working in Alicante and Madrid featuring strongly amongst the list of benefit fraudsters.

With some 3.8 million British citizens living outside the home country, benefit fraud teams are now playing an important role in preventing scams involving disability allowance, tax credits and other British social security benefits. According to reports, some 10,000 Brits living overseas in Spain and other popular expatriate hubs have been prosecuted or fined for illegally claiming benefits, with DPW spokesperson Esther McVey saying thousands of cases are uncovered every year. Around half of those caught were given heavy fines and another 5,000 were forced to repay to the DWP the entire amount they’d received.

Examples of the all too common fraud included a British woman who claimed job-seekers allowance whilst owning and renting out her €120,000 Spanish holiday home. She was sentenced to a two-year suspended eight month prison term and forced to do 100 hours of unpaid work in the community in addition to paying back by instalments the £40,000 she’d received. Along with her husband, she’d moved to Spain after selling their UK house, but the 2008 financial crash sent property values plummeting, and her husband’s work as builder dried up. The couple were forced to return to the UK, but failed to inform the DWP of their Spanish income from holiday lets.
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