Benefits cheat pocketed more than £37k over nine years

editorial image

A SWINDLER who cheated the public purse of more than £37,000 is facing a possible prison sentence.

Lenzie man Baljinder Singh Atwal (52) appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court earlier this month to face the charge that he cheated both East Dunbartonshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) out of £37,170 over a nine year period.

Specialist council officers successfully established that the accused had falsely obtained income support and council tax benefit by pretending to be unemployed and broke.

In fact, Atwal was found to own several businesses, including a restaurant and a sports complex, as well as a number of properties in Glasgow.

The details were uncovered during an investigation by the council, in partnership with the DWP.

Having admitted his crimes, Atwal now expects to be sentenced on Thursday, June 7.

He also faces having his assets seized at a separate proceeds of crime hearing on Tuesday, July 3.

Ian Black, East Dunbartonshire Council’s head of finance and ICT, said: “We take benefit fraud seriously and we will always prosecute those who cheat the system.

“Hopefully this case will act as a deterrent to other benefit cheats.

“Offending of this kind is not a victimless crime and ordinary members of the public, who work hard and pay their taxes, are rightly outraged when people claim benefits to which they are not entitled.”

He added that he would encourage anybody who has information regarding suspected benefit cheats to come forward and contact East Dunbartonshire Council’s fraud team.

All information given is treated as confidential and you can report a suspected fraud anonymously.

You can contact the Benefit Fraud Hotline free on 0800 328 6340 between 8am and 6pm.

You can also e-mail: fraud@eastdunbarton.gov.uk, or write to the Benefit Fraud Team, Tom Johnston House, Civic Way, Kirkintilloch, G66 4TJ.

* Have you got a story, picture or comment? E-mail kirkyherald@jnscotland.co.uk

Alternatively you can call the newsdesk 0141 775 0040, find us on Facebook or visit us on Twitter

Or you can log in below and have you say on the site...