A benefits fraudster from Whatfield, who was jailed after he received nearly £40,000 through false claims, was released this month after at last repaying the cash he owed.
Kai Jensen, of Whatfield Hall, near Hadleigh, was sent to prison earlier this month for repeatedly failing to pay the money owed to Babergh District Council in a confiscation order.
Jensen, aged 77, had repeatedly promised to pay, but the courts finally lost patience with him and activated a suspended jail term of 232 days on August 11.
Only three days later, after contacting family members from behind bars, Jensen paid up in full.
Jensen was originally sentenced in 2014 by Ipswich Crown Court, after hearing he had spent thousands of pounds he cheated from fraudulent benefits claims.
He was given housing and council tax benefits of £35,217, after failing to reveal he and his wife were on pensions from Denmark, and that he held several company directorships.
He denied three charges of fraud, but was found guilty after an investigation led by Ipswich Borough Council’s anti-fraud team, acting on behalf of partner councils in Suffolk.
After Jensen paid his debt to Babergh council this month, fraud investigators were praised for their “perseverance”.
Councillor Peter Patrick, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for organisational delivery and finance, said: “We have a zero tolerance policy towards fraud in Babergh and we are indebted to the Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team for their dogged perseverance in recovering this money.
“People who cheat councils are cheating their neighbours and other residents out of hard-earned taxes. Wherever possible we will go after these people and recover our money.”
ACE works with law enforcement agencies to recover proceeds of crime from offenders and, in the current 2017-2018 financial year, it has helped recover nearly £250,000 from non-police agency cases across the eastern region.
Nick Bentley, ACE’s Financial Investigation Manager, said: “When a defendant has a confiscation order made against them, the judge will attach a period of imprisonment to be served if the individual fails to pay.
“In this case, the magistrates were left with little option but to activate the default term of 232 days imprisonment.
“Any defendant in this position would still owe the money when released with added interest, so it is not surprising that Kai Jensen made arrangements after three days in prison to pay the full amount to gain his release.
“This case demonstrates the benefits of excellent joint working between all agencies involved and that the criminal’s ill-gotten gains will be pursued using the full weight of the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation.”
Councillor Martin Cook, Ipswich Borough Council’s portfolio holder for resources, added: “Ipswich led the original investigation that led to Jensen’s conviction and we are pleased that the money has now been recovered.
“This case shows how the multi-agency approach is working. We want to reiterate that we will pursue benefits cheats whenever and wherever we can.”