A crackdown on benefit fraud is being held in Bradford with offenders being warned "there is no place to hide".

People who fraudulently claim for Government benefits they are not entitled to will be targeted by the new campaign in a bid to save on the amount of taxpayers' cash being given to those who do not need it.

The initiative by the Department for Work and Pensions aims to help cut down on the 197 people interviewed in Bradford under caution by benefit fraud investigators and the 64 cases put forward to courts.

Posters will appear across the district in the coming weeks backed up with TV adverts warning benefit thieves. The campaign seeks to hammer home the message that fraudsters are constantly being sought out in the city.

Each year thousands of people across the UK are caught cheating the benefits system. Fraud officers carry out covert surveillance on suspected offenders, computer systems detect anomalies in people's claims and members of the public inform the DWP via the National Benefit Fraud Hotline.

The campaign will target dishonest claimants who deliberately withhold information. In particular it seeks to cut down on people who:

  • do not declare earnings
  • claim as a single person when they are part of a couple
  • do not declare the true extent of their savings or property.
  • Vernon Sanderson, area fraud investigation officer for Yorkshire, said: "Benefit thieves should beware - we can and do find out about people stealing benefits they are not entitled to and we can gather evidence against them in more ways than ever before.

"Benefit fraud can result in a caution, prosecution, being fined and even a prison sentence. In all cases the money has to be paid back and in some cases property is confiscated."

DWP officers and investigators have many far-reaching powers such as the ability to search people's bank accounts and records, check householders' utility bills for inconsistencies and film people covertly.

Anti-fraud minister James Plaskitt said: "We take every instance of benefit theft seriously - no ifs no buts. Our message to those people considering benefit theft is simple: do not do it, we will catch you.

"The public are fed up with benefit thieves stealing money intended for society's most vulnerable. There are no excuses for taking money that is not yours."

The national Benefit Fraud Hotline can be reached on 0800 854440.

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