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A confidential fraud hotline for Medway residents has been launched this week. Customers can use the hotline to report all fraud against Medway Council from false benefit claims to fraudulent use of the Blue Badge for disabled people.

The types of fraud against the council people may report include: false applications for benefits, the unlawful sub-letting of council housing and the misuse of disabled badges or discounted bus passes. By phoning the new number- 01634 332233- a resident can select the type of fraud they wish to report and will be directed to the appropriate department, where they can speak to someone in confidence.

Reports can be made anonymously and information may be passed on to other relevant organisations the council work with, such as the police or Department for Work and Pensions.
The hotline is part of the council’s drive to help reduce fraud and protect public funds. The council has the power to investigate and prosecute those who commit council related offences in Medway.

For example, failing to declare a change in circumstances – such as getting a new job or moving in with a partner who is working – and wrongly claiming Council Tax, Housing Benefit or Income Support is a criminal offence.

It is hoped the confidential hotline will encourage more people to come forward. Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “I am very pleased with the introduction of this fraud hotline as I welcome anything that is done to clamp down on crime.

“I would urge people to contact us if they know of anyone acting fraudulently against the council, especially when a person wrongly claims benefits as they are using public money, which is paid for by taxpayers.” “Equally, it’s really important that people contact the council when their circumstances change to avoid the possibility of a criminal conviction.”

The Fraud Hotline number should not be used for enforcement type offences such as Fly- tipping and Trading Standards etc.

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An NHS worker, who falsely claimed nearly £3,500 in benefits, has appeared in court and been fined by magistrates.

Miss K D, of Rainham Road, Chatham, appeared before Medway Magistrates Court on Monday, 17 June where she pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions that her circumstances had changed because she’d started work.

Miss D also pleaded guilty to making false claims for Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit by failing to declare she was working. Miss Daniel worked in the NHS flexibank.

Between February and September 2012, Miss D claimed £1,056.10 in housing benefit, £670.48 in council tax benefit and £1,761.71 in job seekers allowance, totalling £3,487.71. The investigation was carried out by officers from the Department for Work and Pensions and Medway Council. Miss D was fined £300 by magistrates.

In addition to prosecuting the claimant, Medway Council and the DWP will seek to recover the overpaid benefit. Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance Cllr Alan Jarrett said: “This case sends out a strong message to all benefits claimants that we will prosecute those who abuse the system. We will also seek to reclaim any money that has been falsely claimed. “This was a good example of government and council agencies working together to ensure people don’t claim benefits they’re not entitled to. “This case shows the importance of reporting changes in circumstances promptly to avoid large overpayments and the possibility of a criminal conviction.”

A job centre worker has been convicted of fraudulently claiming more than £20,000 in benefits.
Benefits cheat Kim Draper was living with partner Lee Fairfax while claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit. More

PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE TO FRIENDS, FAMILY AND NEIGHBOURS

Medway Council has issued a warning about missed parcel delivery cards that could end up costing people hundreds of pounds this Christmas.

Cllr Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Customer Contact, is highlighting the risks especially as, in the build up to Christmas, many people will have packages ordered for presents due to arrive on doorsteps.

The bogus delivery company is posting calling cards through letter boxes, informing the resident that they tried to deliver a parcel but there was no one to take it.
The name of the company on the card is PDS or Parcel Delivery Service. The card gives a premium rate telephone number for the resident to call to re-arrange another delivery time.

But as soon as the call connects to this number, it is diverted to an automated recording and the resident will be charged £315 for the call. It is thought the company is based in South America.

Cllr O’Brien said: “We advise anyone receiving one of these cards that they should report it on 101 number to the police. Of course they should not call the number because the premium rate will mean their phone bill could be as high as £300 or more. At this time of year when people are ordering gifts online to be delivered to their homes, they could easily fall into this trap if they aren’t aware of the risks.”

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