Christmas behind bars for OAP fraudster in £77k Beccles benefits scam

Andrea Stone was told she will go to prison when she appeared at King's Lynn magistrate's court

Andrea Stone was told she will go to prison when she appeared at King's Lynn magistrate's court - Credit: Archant

An 80-year-old man will be spending Christmas behind bars after cheating private landlords in the Beccles area and fraudulently claiming more than £77,000 in benefits over a nine-year period.

Richard Denby, from Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was branded a 'consistent fraudster' and given a 40-week prison sentence after being convicted of five counts of making false statements with a view to obtaining benefits, at Oxford Crown Court.

The prosecution followed a joint prosecution by Cherwell District Council, Cotswold District Council, Waveney District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions' Fraud Investigation Service.

Between 2000 and 2008, Denby rented various properties across the UK, including two addresses in Waveney, by posing as a retired army officer with a low income and moderate savings in order to apply for housing and council tax benefits.

Denby consistently failed to declare his ownership of at least four properties in Yorkshire and that he received income from these properties by renting them out to tenants.

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He also failed to disclose significant investments and savings in excess of the £16,000 limit.

Sue Allen, Waveney's cabinet member for housing, said: 'After a long joint investigation by several local authorities and the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions], we are pleased with the outcome and the decision of the court in sentencing Mr Denby for his relentless and calculated fraudulent activities.

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'Benefits are provided for those in need. However, Mr Denby abused this system through deceit and prevarication. We will not tolerate any type of benefit fraud and are prepared to take the necessary steps in order to prevent it.'

In addition to benefit fraud, Denby intentionally failed to pay his rent either on time or at all and, upon leaving or being evicted from each property, would leave an outstanding debt behind him.

A private landlord in the Beccles area said: 'We were cheated of many hundreds of pounds by this man and hope that publicity over his conviction will encourage other landlords to come forward in the hope they can recover what is owed to them.'

During the investigation, a search of Denby's property revealed records of overseas bank accounts, share certificates and a property portfolio detailing at least 16 houses in Yorkshire which had never been registered with the Land Registry.

When sentencing Denby on December 5, Judge Zoe Smith ordered that he must serve at least half of his 40-week prison sentence and that he must repay more than £56,000 in compensation to the affected local authorities and the DWP, plus the full £60,000 costs of the case.

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