Dundee man faked injury for 23 years to claim benefits

When it comes to disability allowance, one of the most common areas in which claimants find themselves facing fraud charges is when they have failed to keep the benefits office up to date on their condition. Sometimes their health improves but they do not inform the Department of Work and Pensions, and on other occasions, it might be a case where some days are better than others. We discussed a matter that fell into that category a few weeks ago in the case of Neil Shepherd.

There are certainly some grey areas here, and you might well wonder just how often you need to update the DWP on your health in order to avoid any risk of them launching a fraud investigation. However, a case that was heard at Dundee Sheriff Court last month seemed far more black and white.

Faking it

Some people forget to notify changes or don’t realise that they need to. Others exaggerate their condition for a whole variety of reasons. But it is unusual for someone to completely invent an injury. Yet that is what a 53 year old from Dundee is accused of doing, in order to claim disability living allowance. And even more astonishing is the fact that he apparently did so for 23 years.

David Hoban filed his initial claim in 1994. He told the DWP that he was “severely immobile,” was barely able to walk and that he needed “significant assistance” to carry out everyday tasks. He was awarded disability living allowance, and continued to claim this for 23 years, up until the benefit was suspended pending investigation.

The DWP carried out surveillance on Mr Hoban, and reached the conclusion that he had no obvious disability. They concluded that he was, in fact, capable of carrying out everyday tasks and did not need assistance from anybody.

Mr Hoban has been accused of claiming more than £70,000 by false representation and the case will go to trial in November.

Unanswered questions

This is a case that raises a number of questions. At Hylton Potts, we have come to recognise that very few benefit fraud cases are as clear-cut as the case of Mr Hoban appears to be. It will be interesting to learn the full facts when the matter goes to trial later this year, and to find out whether this is truly a case of “faking it” or whether there was some initial injury and that Mr Hoban failed to let the DWP know that his condition had improved.

If the DWP’s allegations turn out to be based in fact, it will put the spotlight on them as much as on Mr Hoban. It seems bizarre that they would make this award to a claimant if he really was inventing the condition – and that they would continue to do so for 23 years before suspecting that something was amiss.

Making sure both sides are heard

Given that Mr Hoban made no plea at the preliminary hearing, we only have the DWP’s version of events to go on. There are always two sides to every story, so we will be monitoring events in November with interest, and will share further news on this case then.

In the meantime, keep in mind that if you are claiming disability allowance, or any other benefit, and are concerned that the DWP might not have the full picture of your circumstances, they will not hesitate to investigate and draw their own conclusions. Get in touch with us at Hylton Potts, and we will be happy to not only listen to your side of the story, but to communicate it to the DWP on your behalf. You can give us a ring on 020 7381 8111, or email us at law@hylton-potts.com.

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