What To Do If You’ve Received A Benefit Fraud Interview Under Caution Letter
HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions are currently cracking down firmly on benefit fraud. If you’ve been invited to an interview under caution, received a benefit review letter or been notified of a benefit fraud investigation against you, you need to act quickly.
How Do I Know if I’m Being Investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions?
If HMRC or the Department for Work and Pensions have become suspicious your activities related to employment or benefit claims, they may begin a background investigation before contacting you. If the investigators then feel there is a likelihood that you are in some way defrauding the benefits system you may receive from the DWP which contains the sentence “we are reviewing your benefits and circumstances” – or something to that effect.
It’s also likely that you will be invited to a benefit fraud interview – also known as an interview under caution. At this stage, it is very important that you seek legal assistance, as a lawyer or solicitor will help you to prepare and assist you throughout the process, including attending at the interview to advise you.
While not every benefit fraud investigation ends in prosecution, there is no point in taking any risks, as the outcome could be very serious. The maximum sentence for benefit fraud is seven years custody.
I’ve Been Accused of Benefit Fraud – What Do I Do?
As mentioned, your first step should always be to seek the assistance of a legal specialist as soon as possible. After this, you should go about collecting as much evidence as you can to prove that you have not committed fraud – from bank statements to payslips to doctor’s notes and anything else that you feel may help. Investigators reserve the right to enter your place of work as part of the process, so you need to be prepared for this to happen.
Your benefits may be stopped during the investigation, so it’s important to agree to meet with the relevant representatives of the DWP when asked, in order to get them reinstated as soon as possible. Speaking to the benefit or tax credit office may help you to fight your corner and could go a long way towards seeing a formal investigation dropped, but you should always speak to your legal advisor before acting.
Potential Outcomes of a Benefit Fraud Investigation
If you are found to be guilty of benefit fraud, you may be sentenced to a prison term of up to seven years ; served with an administrative fine of between £350 and £5,000, ;ordered to repay any wrongly-claimed amounts you have received, be stripped of your benefits for up to three years and be given a criminal record.
You may also be given the option to receive a formal caution instead of facing prosecution. Always speak to your legal advisor before accepting this offer.
How DPP Can Help During a Benefit Fraud Investigation
The legal specialists at DPP Law have extensive experience of working with clients who have been accused of benefit fraud. If you are concerned that you are being investigated, we can help to defend you by going through your financial and benefit-related activities over the relevant time period and helping you to uncover evidence to counter any accusations of benefit fraud.
We’ll also assist you during your interview under caution and, if it is required, represent you in the courtroom. Simply call us today on 0333 200 5859 or use our online contact form, and you’ll receive a free consultation with our experienced team that will help us decide how we can assist you.