Benefits scam backfires and leaves fraudster homeless


- Credit: Archant

A WESTON man who scammed more than £400 in benefits by pretending he was going to be made homeless, has been fined and left with nowhere to live.

Kevin Norris, aged 49, of no fixed abode, appeared before North Somerset Courthouse on Monday and pleaded guilty to making a false representation to the Department of Working Pensions to apply for a rent payment.

Norris committed the fraud in March last year by applying for a crisis loan from the department.

Prosecutor Jane Cooper told the court: “Norris said he was living in Severn Road and received notice in January to leave the flat.

“He said the landlord changed the locks and put his stuff on the lawn. He found a new place in Montpelier and asked for £420 in advance.”

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Ms Cooper said the number of applications for these loans had increased in 2012 and involved a person calling the centre, claiming they were homeless and required payment to secure a let, giving the landlord’s details.

Ms Cooper said: “Department records showed the applicant never moved even though they asked for money to secure the let.

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“Norris was interviewed (by police) and said a foreign man told him how to get money because he was homeless. He admitted it was a false claim to get money.

“The loss to the department and the taxpayer was £420.”

David Bird, defending, said: “This is one of those situations where information gets passed around in the local community. He was owned some money by someone, that person could not pay him but said I know a way in which you can get it.

“The friend pretends to be a landlord and the department issues a cheque. He gave his friend a proportion of it and kept the rest. That’s as simple as it was.”

After an admission to police Norris was bailed but he did not turn up for his next court date because he was homeless.

Mr Bird said: “He’s been wandering from address to address and it just slipped his mind.

“Up until four years ago he was working but lost his job after falling out with his boss.

“Late in life he has succumbed to an involvement with drugs and this is behind his downfall.”

Norris, who is on benefits, was held in custody over the weekend, which Mr Bird said was an appropriate punishment for this level of offending.

Norris was fined a total of £170 and the money he acquired is being repaid through his benefits.

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