Benefit Cheat Jailed For Falsely Claiming £15,000

Chiswick man sentenced following successful prosecution by council

The Police in Chiswick

A Chiswick man who falsely claimed £15,000 in housing benefits to help him save for a mortgage has been sentenced to almost a year in prison, following a successful prosecution by the London Borough of Hounslow.

Artak Aruntunan aged 32, of Claremont Grove, Chiswick, falsely claimed £14,698.53 in housing benefits from the council, despite having £60,000 in an investment account.

Aruntunan made the claims between May 2003 and April 2007 and was caught after the council’s fraud investigation team used sophisticated data matching to compare information from Government departments and financial institutions. This found that he had three bank accounts which he had failed to declare in his application, including the investment account.

When interviewed by investigators, Aruntunan confessed to the fraud and agreed it was unfair for someone with substantial assets to claim benefits. He said he had been saving for a mortgage to help secure his future. He apologised for his actions and said he understood why he should have declared the money.

Cllr Gerald McGregor, lead member for finance at the London Borough of Hounslow, said: “The custodial sentence handed down by the court sends a clear signal that claiming benefits you do not deserve is a serious crime.

“The money he claimed could have been put to better use helping others, rather than for lining his own pockets.

“He fully understood that he was committing a crime, yet only showed remorse when he knew he had been caught.

“I would like to thank the court for ensuring that justice is served, in particular to thank our fraud investigation unit for their diligence and professionalism in providing the evidence that led to his conviction.”

This was the tenth successful prosecution by the council this year, as part of a drive to tackle fraud in the borough.

After pleading guilty to seven offences at Feltham Magistrates Court on 17 June, he was sentenced to 49 weeks in prison (seven weeks for each offence). He must also repay the £14,698.53 he falsely claimed.

June 20, 2008