A huge achievement for our counter fraud team.
The first social care fraud prosecuted by Veritau and City of York Council has reached its conclusion in court. A man from York has been given a 20 month suspended sentence, 80 hours of unpaid work and an order to pay the council more than £1,100 in costs, for a fraud depriving the public purse of over £86k.
The council funded his mother’s social care, and he failed to inform them when his parents’ property sold in 2014. He subsequently lied about this on a financial assessment form. The £86k has been paid back to the council in full.
Veritau investigated following a referral from a member of the public. This is the first prosecution of a social care fraud by the council’s legal department and an area of development for the counter fraud team.
The Chartered Institute for Public Finance found that in 2018/19, the average value of adult social care fraud cases nationally was £29k. Several prosecutions for social care fraud have been achieved before, but these were jointly investigated by the police and taken to court by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The defendant was the financial representative for his mother who received social care support funded by City of York Council. Information was received that that his parents’ property had been sold in 2014 for £200k and he had not declared this to the council in an attempt to avoid paying for his mother’s care fees.
The investigation found that on two separate occasions in 2015, he informed the council that his parents were still joint owners of the property and that his father still lived there. In a financial assessment for social care funding, jointly owned properties are disregarded if a family member continues to live there.
The counter fraud team worked alongside financial investigators from the council’s trading standards team, who were able to obtain financial information which showed that £198k from the house sale was deposited into the son’s bank account.
This money should have been taken into account for his mother’s social care funds, meaning that the council would not have had to pay £86k out of the public purse. As a result of the two teams working together, the man was billed and the entire loss has now been repaid to the council.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by false representation at York Magistrates’ Court on 8 October 2019. The case was referred to York Crown Court for sentencing on 4 December where he received given a 20 month suspended sentence and 80 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay court costs of over £1,100 and an £80 victim surcharge.
When sentencing, the judge said that a significant factor in mitigation was that he had already repaid the £86k to the council.
If you are aware of possible fraudulent activity please call the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247. A 24 hour voicemail facility is available, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about our counter fraud service