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ESA - Interview under caution - possible income

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Smallstones
Smallstones Community member Posts: 4 Listener
hi everyone

recently i got a letter asking me to attend a interview under caution regarding my employment and support allowance claim, and a possible income. 

basically long story short. i get esa for legit reasons, however throughout the last 10 to 12 months i have been playing competitive games (not on a platform, just more peer to peer) for money and accumulated money via crypto currency.

i have been withdrawing the money from my crypto accounts into my bank and buying stuff like, expensive food for my dog, a new computer, nothing to imply a luxury lifestyle (i dont think) and also on cannabis. 

fast forward now, ive most likely exchanged and withdraw about 50k into my bank. Now thinking back on it, perhaps i should of mentioned something to the DWP etc. however i thought since it was gambling, and it didnt hold it all at once, it wouldn't be a issue.

ive spoken to around 10 solicitors, who have all given different advice. Some have recommended me to give a prepared statement, others said not to do that and go strictly no comment. and a very few have told me to be completely honest.

now, if im convicted or accused of fraud, it would be around £5k as thats how much money in esa i got in the last 12 months.

key factors: i have no previous convictions etc, and i have multiple mental health issue that are very serious.

Basically, im looking to see if anyone else has experienced this, and if there is a possibility i will be charged with fraud and face jail. i genuinely didnt remember to contact DWP due to not thinking i needed to, and also due to my medication i have a very very bad memory

Comments

  • calcotti
    calcotti Community member Posts: 10,010 Disability Gamechanger
    edited March 2023
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    If you were claiming income based ESA his entitlement would have been reduced whenever your capital was over £6,000 and there would be no entitlement whenever capital was over £16,000. It makes no difference whether the value was held in your current account or in a cryptocurrency account.

    I recommend that you attend the appointment with a full record of your different accounts.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • anisty
    anisty Community member Posts: 354 Pioneering
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    I've no idea on the legalities but I don't think your story of not knowing you had to tell DWP is going to get you off the hook. If this were me, I'd be honest now and face the consequences. You will feel a weight lifted once you pay the money back and are out of the benefit system altogether.

    As i say, i am not a legal expert at all but my hunch is you won't face jail for this once they have re couped it. £5k is a small amount in the scheme of things and you can easily afford to pay that back from your winnings in full. 

    Im sure your solicitor will put a case together for your defence. The solicitor that advised you to be honest - did he hint at the likely consequences of that route?


    At least if you are honest, that's your bit done then. Whereas that no comment route will be stressful.
     
  • Smallstones
    Smallstones Community member Posts: 4 Listener
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    anisty said:
    I've no idea on the legalities but I don't think your story of not knowing you had to tell DWP is going to get you off the hook. If this were me, I'd be honest now and face the consequences. You will feel a weight lifted once you pay the money back and are out of the benefit system altogether.

    As i say, i am not a legal expert at all but my hunch is you won't face jail for this once they have re couped it. £5k is a small amount in the scheme of things and you can easily afford to pay that back from your winnings in full. 

    Im sure your solicitor will put a case together for your defence. The solicitor that advised you to be honest - did he hint at the likely consequences of that route?


    At least if you are honest, that's your bit done then. Whereas that no comment route will be stressful.
     
    Both solicitors i spoken to advised me to go no comment, as its the investigators job to prove things, is a summarized paraphrase of the conversation. essentially what they said was, at this stage im best not accidentally given them more information to incriminate myself.
  • Smallstones
    Smallstones Community member Posts: 4 Listener
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    Danny123 said:
    Were you ever over the 6000 or 16000 limit at any one time , either in your accounts or crypto account 
    Yes. essentially i was only winning small to begin with, and cashed out £200 here, and £180 there, and spend it on food for my dogs etc. this was around feb last year. then about 9 months ago the winnings began to accumulate over £16000. however my crypto account was closed and they withheld my money for 7 months until i got it back via ombudsman. They closed my account because the address the money was sent from was a international gambling website. 

    i understand this isnt a good situation. and i accept responsibility, but my medication for my schizophrenia makes me very forgetful, and i thought gambling assets didnt effect the ability to claim esa. now i know i was most likely wrong.

    i just dont want to go prison. i know its VERY unlikely, as people who have done MUCH worse have all gotten suspended sentences 
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 56,191 Disability Gamechanger
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    I wouldn't advise you to hold any information from them. You need to be honest and tell them everything because they will find out anyway. You won't go to prison but you'll need to repay any overpayment. You may also have a small fine on top, which is about £50.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 56,191 Disability Gamechanger
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    Danny123 said:
    How do you pay a overpayment do they take a percentage from your entitlement ? 

    If there's any benefits in payment they can reduce them to pay it back.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 56,191 Disability Gamechanger
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    There is a maximum rate of deduction from:

    The maximum deduction from these benefits is £11.55 a week or £30.80 a week where the overpayment was due to fraud or you have agreed to a civil penalty. See our Fraud Investigations guide.

    https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Benefits-Overpayment/How-is-an-overpayment-recovered

    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • anisty
    anisty Community member Posts: 354 Pioneering
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    and a very few have told me to be completely honest.


    you did say you had spoken to about 10 solicitors and "a very few have told you to be completely honest"

    I was wondering if those solicitors had hinted at the likely outcome?





  • Smallstones
    Smallstones Community member Posts: 4 Listener
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    anisty said:
    and a very few have told me to be completely honest.


    you did say you had spoken to about 10 solicitors and "a very few have told you to be completely honest"

    I was wondering if those solicitors had hinted at the likely outcome?





    Essentially I am guilty and have committed fraud. 

    Other solicitors have said I need to go no comment and not incriminate myself anymore.

    And the others said to cooperate with them in the hopes it will reduce the chances of going to court.

    Given the conflicting information I'm not sure what's best for me.

    One solicitor said to be completely honestly but give short answers, as they will gave evidence of this possible income, and if I say no comment it won't stop them getting more later down the line
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 56,191 Disability Gamechanger
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    I agree with the solicitor that told you to be honest. It’s always better to be honest with this sort of situation. If you’re not then you’re only going to make the situation even worse. 
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
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