Lancashire benefits cheat caught on Aldi booze run and jailed for four months

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A disability benefit fraudster from St Annes, who went on a supermarket booze run while claiming he had limited mobility, has been jailed for four months by Preston Crown Court.

Michael Johnson, 69, of Hove Road, Lytham St Annes, appeared at Preston Crown Court on Friday, December 15 and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. Johnson had pleaded guilty to fraud - namely failing to notify a change of circumstances - after being accused of claiming his mobility was poorer than it was, resulting in the overpayment of Personal Independence Payments.

Over a four year period, Johnson had stolen £32,368.70 in Personal Independence Payments but was caught as part of Department for Work and Pensions’ crackdown on benefit cheats, which saved the taxpayer £1.1 billion last year. The DWP will now seek to recover the funds.

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Johnson was caught on camera carrying a case of beer in Aldi and walking unaided to his local working men’s club. Surveillance footage also showed him loading a case of beer into his car and carrying furniture into a property.

A St Annes man has been jailed at Preston Crown Court for fraud.A St Annes man has been jailed at Preston Crown Court for fraud.
A St Annes man has been jailed at Preston Crown Court for fraud. | n/a

DWP's counter fraud clampdown, together with wider benefit checks and controls, saved at least £18 billion last year and saw fraud and error fall by 10 percent. The government is now pushing to go further with a target to save the taxpayer £1.3 billion through counter fraud and error in 2023/24.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, said: “Fairness is at the heart of our welfare system. If you are disabled and in need of a helping hand, we will be there for you. But we will not tolerate those who try to cheat the taxpayer.

“Cases like this are proof our crack down on benefit fraud is working – thanks to our expert teams we plan to save the taxpayer £1.3bn this year and make sure our help goes to those who need it most.”

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This latest case comes as the government continues to turn the tide on benefit cheats. DWP’s Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System plan, backed by £900 million over three years, bolsters the counter-fraud frontline with measures including trained specialists to review millions of Universal Credit claims.  

The Department has set a new target to save at least £1.3 billion on fraud and error in 2023-24.