Benefit Assessor convicted of fraud

09/01/2015

A council worker who defrauded his employers out of £32,000 of housing benefits has today been sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and to complete 300 hours of unpaid work.

Anthony McHale, aged 55 and from Willenhall was employed by Wolverhampton City Council as benefit assessor and was responsible for processing and managing benefit claims.

Between 1 August 2012 and 8 September 2014, McHale set up six fraudulent benefit claims under aliases which he had created and then managed. The proceeds of the fraud went into his bank account.

Following a call from a member of the public who had received a letter addressed to one of the fictitious claimants which the defendant had created, the council's fraud department launched an investigation.

McHale was subsequently interviewed and he immediately confessed to the fraud, claiming that he needed money to pay off outstanding debts.

He was arrested and charged with six counts of fraud to which he pleaded guilty on 14 November 2014 at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court.

David Elliott, Acting Head of the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Services Crown Court Unit, said:

"Anthony McHale was employed by Wolverhampton City Council in a position of trust which involved him dealing with and ensuring the correct benefits were paid to those who were entitled to it.

"However, he abused this trust and through his knowledge of the system, he began to defraud the council by creating fictitious claims and paying housing benefit to himself.

"Over a two year period, McHale defrauded the council out of £32,326.20 which he used to pay off personal debts which he had built up.

"The CPS will now take steps to recover from him the amounts stolen."