Barking man sentenced after committing benefit fraud

A Barking man who concealed savings of just under �24,000 when he applied for housing and council tax benefits was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence.

Suntharamoorthy Ponnampalam, of Essex Road, must wear an electronic tag for four months and pay Barking and Dagenham costs of �1,104.14. The jail sentence was suspended for 12 months.

Ponnampalam, 56, submitted three benefit claims to the council in April 2006, March 2007 and October 2007 and failed to declare that he had just under �24,000 in capital in three Barclays bank accounts. In his first claim, he denied having a bank account, though declaring a Lloyds TSB bank account in the subsequent claims.

A government data match alerted the council’s benefit fraud investigation team to the irregularity. The total overpaid benefit was �11,224.91.

After an investigation, Ponnampalam pleaded guilty to four counts of dishonestly making false statements or representation contrary to section 111A(1)(a) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 at Havering Magistrates’ Court on January 6 this year. He was sentenced on January 13.

Cllr Rocky Gill, cabinet member for finance and education, said: “When you are applying for benefits, you are legally required to declare all your savings, assets and earnings

“The money that was overpaid in this case could have been invested in other essential public services in Barking and Dagenham.

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“It is important to note that benefit fraudsters are not only cheating the council, but most importantly the residents of this borough and we will not stand for that.”