Press release -
Benefit fraud medium didn’t see jail term coming
A medium who toured the world and touted his spiritual abilities online has been jailed for illegally claiming disability benefits and failing to pay tax.
Timothy Abbott, 54, of Stafford, pleaded guilty to claiming more than £58,000 in disability benefits and failed to pay almost £10,000 in Income Tax and National Insurance. His wife Janette Abbott was also involved in benefit fraud, with the couple’s combined fraud worth almost £171,000.
A joint investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found Abbott had performed around the UK and toured Canada, Switzerland and Iceland as a spiritualist tutor, while all the time claiming disability and incapacity benefits.
Colin Booker, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“Abbott exploited the benefits and tax systems in two ways: He failed to tell DWP a medical condition had improved to get disability benefits, claiming he was unfit for work, and then brazenly failed to declare his earnings as he toured the world.
“This prosecution will send a strong message that, along with our partners in DWP, we will bring those stealing from the UK economy and the British taxpayer to justice.”
Senior DWP Fraud Manager Sian Fellowes said:
"Benefit thieves are costing the taxpayer almost £1 billion a year. Disability Living Allowance is intended to help people who have severe difficulties with their care and mobility, and it is clear that in this case no such difficulties existed. We will continue to investigate allegations of benefit fraud very rigorously and bring people who abuse the benefit system to justice.”
Abbott, a regular gym member, claimed disability benefits to which he was not entitled from the DWP for five years and failed to declare his earnings to HMRC during this time.
Abbott appeared in court alongside his wife, Janette Abbott, 50, who had also pleaded guilty to benefit fraud totalling almost £103,000 following a joint investigation by DWP, HMRC, Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire Borough Council. The total loss to the public purse for the couple’s combined frauds is almost £171,000.
Staffordshire County Councillor Alan White, Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing said:
“Direct Payments give people independence and choice in getting assistance suited to them to help them live fulfilling lives. They have made a real difference to thousands of Staffordshire people. Unfortunately as this case has shown the system can be abused. It is pleasing to see this case brought to a successful conclusion thanks to close working with the DWP.”
Notes for editors
1.Details of the defendant sentenced today, 5 March 2015, at Staffordshire Crown Court:
-Timothy Abbott (DOB 20.08.60) of Lineker Close, Stafford, Staffordshire, was sentenced to eight months in prison. He pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of income tax contrary to section 106A of the Taxes Management Act 1970, the fraudulent evasion of national insurance contributions contrary to section 114 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, cheating the Public Revenue and intent to defraud contrary to common law on 18 April 2014.
2.HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
3.Photographs and surveillance footage of the couple are available also from DWP Press Office on 02920 586099.
4.Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.