Anerley resident is jailed for council tax fraud

Published Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A 45 year-old man from Anerley, was sentenced to imprisonment at Bexley Magistrates Court on the 15 May 2017.

The man pleaded guilty to claiming Council Tax Benefit/Support when in fact he had capital over the prescribed limit, in the form of another property which he was renting out.

Benefit assessors referred the case to the fraud team after they became suspicious that he may not have declared his correct income details.

Mr Fitzgerald Bruce denied that he solely owned the property he lived in and another in Casewick Road in Lewisham. He provided a prepared statement via his solicitor and refused to answer any other questions. His prepared statement stated that he owned approximately 30 per cent of the properties and made no gain from renting one out.

Mr Bruce had received £6,719.60 in Council Tax Benefit/Support between the period 25 August 2008 to 1 April 2017. The full amount has been repaid.

Mr Bruce pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance and a trial date was set, however on the day of the trial he changed his plea to guilty on all three charges and was sentenced to 30 weeks imprisonment and ordered to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.

A council spokesperson said: “We welcome this result and the custodial sentence as it sends a clear message that fraud committed by these cheats will not be tolerated. This authority has a zero tolerance to fraud. Those who claim allowances, such as council tax support, to which they are not entitled, are committing fraud that represents a loss of income to Bromley Council. It is a waste of public funds meant for those in genuine need.”

Anyone with information about a suspected benefit fraud should contact (in strict confidence) the fraud hotline on 0800 169 6975 or email audit@bromley.gov.uk.

The council has also launched an anti-fraud app, which is a quick and easy way residents can report their suspicions. Visit www.bromley.gov.uk/fraud for information about downloading the app to your mobile device.

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