Hamilton Sheriff Court
A Shotts man has been found guilty of receiving more than £1,200 in Income Support, Housing and Council Tax benefit he wasn’t entitled to.
Steven Riggans of Elgol Pass, Torbothie, pleaded guilty at Hamilton Sheriff Court to dishonestly claiming £1,256 in benefits after an investigation by the DWP and North Lanarkshire Council’s benefit fraud team.
He was sentenced to 100 hours community service and will need to pay back all the money he falsely claimed.
The investigation found a case for collusive separation, meaning that Riggans and his partner had separated after agreeing a course of action to take advantage of the benefits system.
This involved the partner moving out for a short period of time with the intention of moving back after the claim for benefit has been processed and payment commenced.
Due to his circumstances, the defendant was offered an administrative caution which he refused, so the matter was referred to the Procurator Fiscal. When appearing at court, he pled guilty meaning he also now has a criminal record.
Andrew McLean, sanctions and fraud manager, said: “We are aware of the difficulties caused by the current economic climate, however, people shouldn’t consider benefit fraud as a way out of their financial difficulties.
“We will pursue those making false claims through the courts with our fraud team following up on any information which we receive.”
Councillor Bob Burrows, convener of policy and resources finance for North Lanarkshire Council, added: “I want to assure our residents that while we are keen to help all those who are entitled to benefits, we are also focused on preventing fraudulent claims.
“If you have information on suspected fraud, call the confidential Benefit Hotline on 0800 953 0400.”