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Eight months’ jail for US pensioner who carried out £45,000 benefits scam — by not telling authorities his wife worked as benefits adviser

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An American OAP has been jailed after admitting to a £45,000 benefit scam.

US citizen Robert Hopkins told the Department for Work and Pensions and council bosses he lived with his wife but that she had no income – allowing him to rake in pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

But in reality she had a £33,000 a year job with Angus Council – part of which involved her advising clients with their benefits claims.

Hopkins, of Arbroath, carried on his scam for almost three years – netting £15,000 a year in handouts to which he wasn’t entitled.

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told Dundee Sheriff Court that Hopkins’ wife took the care manager job with Angus Council in April 2012 – but that Hopkins hid her new job from benefit chiefs.

She said: “The accused was interviewed on October 20 2015. He admitted that his partner was working, that he had not told the agencies of this and that he knew that the fact she was working would have affected his entitlement to the benefits.”

The court was told Hopkins did not believe he would need to notify the benefits authorities about his change of circumstances because they had approached him when something similar happened in 2009.

Ms Robertson added: “As a result of the accused’s actions, he obtained £13,161 in housing benefit, £1,457 in council tax benefit and £32,000 in pension credit to which he was not entitled.”

Hopkins, 76, of Westhaven Gardens, Arbroath, pleaded guilty on indictment to two charges under the Social Security Administration Act committed between April 1 2012 and October 2015.

Defence solicitor Billy Rennie said: “He didn’t intimate the changes in his wife’s employment to the authorities.

“He receives nothing now – he is a US citizen and hasn’t put enough contributions in despite being here for 30 years.

“He could work and has an electrical degree from the US and in computing from Dundee.”

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael jailed Hopkins for eight months.

He said: “This was a significant amount defrauded from the state. It is in effect a fraud on all the members of the public.”

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