A WARNING has been issued by the Isle of Wight Council to anyone illegally claiming benefits.
The authority issued the warning following a recent court case where a resident unlawfully claimed housing benefit and was ordered to pay the council more than £24,000 within six months or face 12 months jail.
The case came about as a result of several council departments working together to identify fraudulent activity and then involving other agencies including Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police.
The council’s executive member for housing, Cllr Steve Stubbings, said: "Unlawfully claiming benefits you are not entitled to is a very serious crime and costs councils across the country millions every year.
"It is very important the council works with partners to crack down on fraudulent activity so that benefits are only given to those who genuinely need them.
"This recent successful prosecution shows we will not tolerate fraudulent activity and demonstrates that if you do unlawfully claim benefits, you will be caught and you will pay back what you owe or you could go to prison."
The council operates a dedicated phone number that people can call should they suspect someone is unlawfully claiming benefits. Anyone calling the number has the right to remain anonymous and all information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence. To number is (01983) 823969. Alternatively, call the national benefit fraud hotline on 0800 854 440.