Published: Thursday, 30th August 2018
Royal Borough of Greenwich Anti-Fraud team secure successful prosecution.
A 62-year-old man from Abbey Wood has been prosecuted by the Royal Borough of Greenwich after fraudulently receiving over £24,000 in Direct Payments, for supposedly acting as a carer to a man claiming to be disabled and in need of care.
Charles Dickson, of Bastion Road, SE2, was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, for having fraudulently received money totalling £24,118.00.
Direct Payments are payments for people who have been assessed by the Council as needing assistance with their daily care needs, and provides them with a personal budget to employ their own carers.
From 4 January 2012 to 23 July 2015 Mr Dickson received regular payments into his bank account which he knew had been fraudulently claimed by a Direct Payments recipient, Mr Z, who had falsely provided Mr Dickson as his carer.
Evidence obtained by the Council's Internal Audit and Anti-Fraud team identified that Mr Z had been out of the United Kingdom for a total of 37 months in the last five years but had continued to claim Direct Payments, stating that he had been receiving care at his home address in Nuthatch Gardens, Thamesmead, SE28. Throughout this period Mr Dickson submitted regular timesheets to the Council claiming that he had been providing care to Mr Z.
In June 2016 Mr Dickson was interviewed but provided a "no comment" response to the questions put to him. Council investigators and the Metropolitan Police attempted to interview Mr Z, however they learned that he had returned to his home country of Ghana and refused to return to the United Kingdom to answer questions.
In December 2017 Mr Dickson was summonsed to appear at Bexley Magistrates Court to face four charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 relating to the £24,118.00 fraudulently obtained. On 11 December 2017 at Bexley Magistrates Court Mr Dickson pleaded guilty to all four charges and the matter was passed to Woolwich Crown Court for sentencing. On 16 April 2018 at Woolwich Crown Court Mr Dickson repeated his guilty pleas - His Honour Judge Raynor gave Mr Dickson three months to repay the money that he had fraudulently obtained.
On 6 August 2018 at Woolwich Crown Court, His Honour Judge Raynor heard that Mr Dickson had repaid the Royal Borough of Greenwich the full amount of money. His Honour Judge Raynor made it clear that he considered Mr Dickson to be a thoroughly dishonest man and that "he was a wolf in sheep's clothing and has always been dishonest."
As well as being sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment (suspended for two years), Mr Dickson was ordered to undertake 220 hours of unpaid work in the community and was given a three-month curfew to remain at his home address from 8pm to 6am each day. His Honour Judge Raynor took into consideration the affect the curfew would have on Mr Dickson's railway job and indicated he may well have to lose his job. Mr Dickson was also order to pay the Royal Borough of Greenwich legal costs of £2,887.52 and a victim surcharge of £150.00.
'Learned a valuable lesson'
Councillor Christine Grice, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: "It is essential that only people with a genuine need for assistance receive monies, so it was satisfying to hear that the fraudulent Direct Payments claim made by Mr Z has been stopped and that his co-conspirator has been brought to justice, and that the amount defrauded has been repaid. I hope Mr Dickson has learned a valuable lesson and that this case will serve as a deterrent for anyone who may wish to consider a similar criminal path."