September 2 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 25, 2014
A benefit cheat has been fined £2,500 after claiming money he inherited belonged to a mysterious traveller friend named “Dave” - who does not actually exist.
Graham Coulson, 51, of Diban Court, Elm Park, failed to declare both his income and money he received through inheritance to Havering Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Between December 2009 and April 2013, Coulson inherited £19,000, as well as receiving further income which appeared to come from the sale of motor vehicles.
At the same time, he was receiving more than £11,000 in housing benefit, income support and council tax support, which he was not entitled to.
Appearing at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on April 17, Coulson denied two counts of fraud, saying the previously undisclosed income was from his friend, “Dave,” who, because he was a traveller and did not have a permanent address, would trade cars.
He added that “Dave” would use both his bank account and personal computer to process and complete the transactions that came on the back of his sales.
However, magistrates found Coulson guilty as charged and stated they did not believe that “Dave” existed and that his income was derived from the sale of cars which actually belonged to Coulson. They also believed he knew he should have told the Council and the DWP about his inheritance.
Mike Stringer, Head of Finance at Havering Council, said: “Mr Coulson claimed over £11k in benefits while raking in cash from his car sales business and keeping his inheritance of £19,000 quiet. He played the very system that honest residents pay for.”
Coulson was ordered to pay £2,500 and given a 12-month community order. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60.