Havering benefits fraudster owned boat and caravan called ‘Well Dodgy’

A Havering man who swindled more than �50,000 in benefits had an expensive caravan and a speedboat - both called ‘Well Dodgy’.

David James Richards was found with seven vehicles and two speedboats, and was a boat driver for the Formula 1 British water skiing organisation.

But the 53-year-old, who lives in a council home in Abberton Walk, Rainham, was caught out following an investigation by Havering Council’s benefits fraud team.

Richards admitted two counts of failing to tell the authorities of a change in his circumstances. at at Basildon Crown Court on Friday of last week (January 27),

He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and must do 200 hours of community service and abide by a curfew of 9pm-6am for three months.

The judge also set up a timetable for a confiscation hearing, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The council began investigating his claims for housing and council tax benefits in June 2010 following a complaint that Richards was actually running a business and had substantial assets,

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He was arrested and found with a number of vehicles including an expensive Winnebago caravan, two speedboats, a breakdown truck, and several vehicles.

Richards said in interview that the cars and boats were his hobby.

The amounts he had dishonestly claimed were �33,757.87 from Havering Council, and �16,312.09 from the Department of Work and Pensions – a total loss to the public purse of �50,069.96.

Leader of the council, Cllr Michael White, said: “It is absolutely astonishing that this defendant could have lived a life of luxury, and owned so many vehicles, yet he brazenly stole �50,000 from local taxpayers.

“This case sends out a very strong message that Havering Council will not tolerate anyone who tries to rip-off the public, and we will investigate all allegations that people are defrauding the system.

“I strongly urge any of our residents who suspect someone of dishonestly claiming benefits to call our benefits investigation team in confidence, on 432405 and we will take action.”