Fraudster admits claiming £27,500 in extra benefits

A Lavenham man has admitted fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in benefits over a five-year period.

Gary Raffle, 56, of Water Street, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday to an offence of making false representation to obtain income support totalling £27,500.

Raffle was found not guilty on the direction of Mr Recorder Craig Ferguson of two offences of failing to notify a change in his circumstances to which he had pleaded not guilty.

Mr Recorder Ferguson ordered the preparation of a pre-sentence report on Raffle by the probation service.

The court had heard claims that despite owning and then selling a house in Hackney, East London, for more than £300,000, Raffle had failed to reveal this when he applied for benefits.

Since he sold the property in July 2006, the amount in Raffle’s bank account had fallen from £313,810 to around £60,000, said prosecutor William Eaglestone.

When interviewed by benefit fraud investigators, Raffle had claimed that he was unaware of the need to disclose ownership of a property and had believed that the package of benefits he received was linked to his ill health and was not means-tested.

Mr Eaglestone said that owning cash or other assets worth more than £16,000 meant that Raffle was ineligible for means-tested benefits.

After the jury returned not guilty verdicts on two offences of failing to notify a change in his circumstances, a further charge of making false representation was put to Raffle, to which he pleaded guilty.

The false representation charge related to claims to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Raffle was granted bail by the court, with a date for sentencing yet to be fixed.