Belfast Telegraph

Benefits fraud accused had £470k in joint bank account, court told

By Gerry McLaughlin

A Tyrone woman accused of dishonestly claiming benefits while she had almost £470,000 in a joint bank account with two others has denied the allegation at Enniskillen Crown Court.

The court heard Anne Quinn of Corkhill Road in Eskra, had been overpaid Pension Credit by £44,627 in a period from November 2007 to January 2012.

The defendant is charged with dishonestly failing to promptly notify the Social Security Agency of a change in her circumstances which she knew would affect her entitlement to the means tested benefit - specifically capital in excess of the statutory limit.

The 71-year-old married woman pleaded not guilty as a jury was sworn in yesterday to try her case.

Prosecution Counsel Suzanne Gallagher told the jury that a request had been made to the First Trust Bank for information on a fixed term deposit account that was held jointly by the defendant with her sister and her uncle.

The joint account was opened on November 2, 2006 for a sum slightly in excess of £456,000 and it had a closing balance of £468,525.18.

The court heard the defendant had a sum of £231,772.59 transferred into her sole name on April 3, 2009 from the deposit account into a current account.

The cash had then been transferred into another account on April 7, 2009, the court was told.

The court was told the accused had been overpaid by £44,627 in Pension Credit by the Social Security Agency. It would not have been paid if she had reported the money she had come into.

She had inherited money from her uncle and had not told the Social Security Agency because she did not realise the pension was means tested, the court heard.

An investigator from the Department of Social Development questioned the defendant as to why she failed to tell the Department of a change in her circumstances, that she had undeclared capital in the period from November 2007 to January 2012.

She was also asked why she claimed Pension Credit when it was means tested.

Quinn admitted signing some Pension Credit forms but did not complete all of them. The defendant also said she could not touch the inheritance until 2009.

Ms Gallagher said it was the prosecution's case that the defendant was fully aware that the benefit was means tested.

She said that the defendant should have told the Social Security Agency that she had a sum of money in a joint account, and that she had later transferred another sum of money from that account into a current account, the court heard.

The case was adjourned until today.

Belfast Telegraph


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