Fraudster told to expect jail over £230,000 benefits scam

editorial image

A fraudster who pocketed more than £230,000 by using false identities to claim a variety of benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions and councils across Yorkshire has been told he faces a prison sentence.

Paul Burnett, 45, pleaded guilty to a series of offences, including fraud and making dishonest representations to obtain benefits, covering a 17-year period between 1996 and 2013.

The charges involving false representations made to local authorities in Calderdale, Kirklees, Bradford and Selby.

It is understood that Burnett used the identities of friends and his uncle to obtain a variety of payments including incapacity benefit, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Burnett’s barrister Stephen Wood told Bradford Crown Court that there had initially been a dispute over the amount of money involved in the case with the prosecution alleging that his client had obtained benefits totalling more than £400,000, but he said the agreed figure was now put at just over £230,000.

Mr Wood said Burnett, of Rose Lane, Church Fenton, Tadcaster, had made substantial voluntary repayments to various agencies and it would be important for the court to have up to date information about how much has been paid back.

Judge Jonathan Rose agreed to a request for Burnett’s sentencing hearing to be adjourned until September 9 and he extended the defendant’s bail in the meantime.

But the judge told Burnett that the request for a pre-sentence report and the granting of bail was no indication as to the sentence that would be imposed.

“That will be a matter for the judge on the next occasion, the overwhelming probability is that a prison sentence will follow for this degree of offending,” added the judge.