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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 66983
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Falsely claiming tax credits as a single mother.

Customer Question

Please help me, I've been falsely claiming tax credits as a single mother & the day after I phoned the helpline to cancel my claim I received a letter saying, I was being investigated as they had information to suggest that I had a partner living with me. I'm so scared they will prosecute me & I will lose everything. I just want to own up & pay back what I wasn't entitled to I'm so terrified that I'm contemplating suicide

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Hi

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer.
How much is the overpayment?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm not exactly sure but could be around 20,000.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok.
What would you like to know about this exactly?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Excellent & very quick response so far thank you

I want to know what is the likelihood of them taking me to court or if I am totally honest with then will they agree to let me pay back the overpayment?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

I'm really sorry but if this is an overpayment of £20,000 or thereabouts and this was a false claim from the start then the chances are they would want to prosecute.

Sometimes for very small overpayments they will just let you repay.

Also, they will let a person repay where there is no dishonesty but just a mistake for obvious reasons.

Unfortunately that not your position here though. You never can predict what will happen for certain. Sometimes people do get cautions or escape prosecution for serious offences. But most likely they would be looking to prosecute.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps.

Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 66983
Experience: Over 5 years in practice.
Jo C. and 5 other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Do you suggest that I seek proper legal representation - there are a few circumstances that iI didnt want to go into as I didnt want it to seem as if I was giving you "the sob story" so to speak

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If you have been invited in for interview then you should seek a solicitor to attend with you. You don't always get legal aid for these interviews now but its worth an attempt.
Unless they are offering a caution or a repayment you should probably be making a no comment interview.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have only just received a letter advising me that they are reviewing my 2011/2012 claim as they hold information that another adult (my partner) may live at the address. I dont want to lie & possibly get myself into more trouble I just want to tell the truth & offer to pay back whatever I owe. Im hoping that once I tell my partner what has been going on that we may be able to get a loan to repay a substantial amount right away. At the moment I am just terrified of the unknown. I know I have been very stupid, have never broken the law in my life & will lose everything if they prosecute me.

Thank you for your time

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

No, you can't lie. But unless they are going to offer a caution or a repayment you should be making a no comment interview. There;s no sense in admitting anything at the time of first interview.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I have to phone them before 31st August - Its better to just admit when he moved in case they then go on to investigate & find out anyway?

Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, as I've said, its better to admit nothing unless they are making an offer to you of either a caution or a repayment.
You can no credit for making admissions in interview.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

sorry I don't understand your last sentence? Do I not answer any of their questions over the phone?

Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They won't question you over the phone. They will invite you in for interview.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

should I have a legal representative with me if I have to be interviewed?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If you have been invited in for interview then you should seek a solicitor to attend with you. You don't always get legal aid for these interviews now but its worth an attempt.
Unless they are offering a caution or a repayment you should probably be making a no comment interview.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

This is the same reply as you gave me to an earlier question, im sorry but im in a right state here and just wanted to know what might happen to me. will I go to prison?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I do realise that but thats really because it was the same question.
If this was a fraudulent claim from the outset and this does amount to a £20,000 overpayment then there is case law that custody is not out of the question. Its always a very short custodial sentence and anyway they probably won't be able to prove it amounted to £20,000 unless, of course, you make admissions to lots of things of which they have no evidence.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your help, I think the best thing I could do is seek legal advise locally on Monday. It wasnt deliberately a fraudulent claim from the outset but they probably wont look at it like that. Like I said before there were reasons why I didnt tell them he was here - it was a very unstable relationship to start with, I was suffering from depression also but they probably wont want to know all that. Thanks again

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It doenst matter why you didn't tell them.
The only issue is whether or not you did.
If it wasn't fraudulent from the outset then that would improve upon your mitigation.
Its very unlikely they can prove he was there from the outset anyway.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK thanks,it looks like I am going to have a very troubled weekend or until i know what their intentions are. IS there any more advise you could give me like what might help my case?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, probably the best thing you can do is be as quiet as possible. I can see immediately that your account will give them information that is damaging to you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What if i were able to repay all or most of the overpayment immediately - would that stop them from prosecuting?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No.
Repayment of the sum is helpful but not a factor to stop a prosecution if its felt that its otherwise in the public interest.
Also, if you are able to repay £20k immediately then they may wonder about your means.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I would be relying on family & friends to obtain loans in order to try & avoid me being sent to prison. Surely if the money was all paid back then they wouldnt want to send me to prison???

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
As I've said, that would not deter the prosecution.

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