A Fylde man who claimed tens of thousands in benefits while living in Spain has been jailed for eight months.
Recorder Mark Brown told 68-year-old fraudster Barry Acton: “The public is sick and tired of fraudsters like you, living abroad in Spain enjoying a life in Spain and yet claiming benefits here.”
Acton, who told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) he lived with his daughter in Cleveleys when he owned two three-bedroomed properties in Murcia, Spain, was charged with a £31,379 fraud against the DWP for claiming benefits while living abroad.
Representing himself, the former Asda shop worker walked into the dock with the aid of a stick, he told the judge he has genuine health problems including neck and hip problems, diabetes, cataracts and an “unstable bladder”.
But the court heard Acton, a former Blackpool and The Fylde College student, was not entitled to claim any benefits as he was living away from the UK for longer than 28 days at a time.
Prosecuting Rachel Woods said: “Mr Acton was the recipient of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). He initially made a claim on October 6, 2000, for himself and that ran until October 7, 2014.
“This was a claim that was genuine initially however it became apparent he was spending periods abroad of longer than 28 days which would have made him ineligible
“He had to disclose the fact he was not a habitual resident in the UK and was living for the most part in Spain with his wife.
“He made a claim for pension credit on April 9, 2010 – that was fraudulent from outset because at that stage he owned two properties in Spain. On July 10, 2008, he purchased a three bedroomed property without a mortgage and a second one subject to a mortgage.”
He would not have been entitled to any pension credit. He admitted two counts of failing to notify change in circumstances.
Judge Recorder Mark Brown said: “The purpose of providing DLA and pension credits is so that individuals in need are able to live a reasonable standard of life.They are certainly not intended to fund persons such as yourself living abroad in Spain.
“It appears in 2008 you had sufficient funds to be able to purchase a property in Spain and also sufficient money to purchase a second property with the assistance of a mortgage.
“At the same time you continued to claim DLA.
“You are a person who has taken advantage of the goodwill shown to you in terms of being provided with benefits at a time when you were living abroad enjoying a life in Spain. This is not what benefits are intended to finance.
“In those circumstances I take a particularly serious view of this case.