Benefit fraud convictions on the rise in Mid Ulster

A TOTAL of 41 benefit fraudsters from Mid-Ulster have been convicted in the past three years, it has been revealed.

They were among the 1,516 people across Northern Ireland who have been nabbed for defrauding the social security system to the tune of about £10 million since 2009.

The number of local benefit cheats is the lowest West of the Bann, with 50 people caught defrauding the system in West Tyrone and 115 in Foyle.

The figures were released by the Department of Social Development at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

They show a rise in the number of benefit fraud convictions across Northern Ireland since 2009, from 455 to 519 in 2012.

A total of 17 people were convicted of Benefit fraud in Dungannon, Cookstown and Magherafelt between 1st September 2011 and 1st September 2012. Altogether they had falsely claimed £152,500.27 of taxpayer’s money.

Among those convicted was a 30-year-old woman from the Dungannon area who claimed £26,381.27 in Income Support despite being in work. For the offence she received a two year prison term suspended for three years.

In April last year a 50-year-old man from Mid-Ulster received a nine month prison term suspended for two years after being convicted of falsely claiming £29,988.11 in Incapacity Benefit when he was in fact working.

Other cases include a 34-year-old man from the Cookstown area who falsely claimed £14,439.67 in Income Support while working, and a 32-year-old woman from the Dungannon area who received 200 hours of community service plus an order to pay court costs of £58 after claiming benefits worth £8,287.95 while in work.