Cheating Expats Try To Fiddle Pension Claims


One in 20 British expat pensioners are fiddling their state pensions by claiming inflation-linked rises to which they are not entitled, according to the government.

The British pensioners claim the annual pension increase and the £200 winter fuel allowance by telling the Department of Work and Pensions they live in the UK when they really live overseas.

By giving a friend or relative’s address in the UK as their home, expat pensioners can claim the same benefits as a pensioner who genuinely lives in Britain.

One expat pensioner who has lived for years in tropical Pattaya in Thailand was recently hauled before the courts after his scam was discovered when his mother died in Britain.

Crackdown on fraudsters

The expat, who only gives his name as Stan to avoid more official attention, says he is also facing criminal action for tax evasion.

“It looks like my income from UK will be cut by over a half for several years because of the accumulated fines,” he told a reporter in Thailand.

To combat the fraudsters, HM Revenue & Customs is checking how expats suspected of scamming the state pensions spend on credit and bank cards to detect regular overseas transactions.

Passports due for renewal are also scrutinised for long-term visa stamps. Expats must send a copy of each page of their passport to the authorities before a new one is issued.

How much is the state pension for expats?

The UK government does not publish official bogus pension claim figures, but officials suggest no more than 5% of British expats abroad are fiddling their benefits.

State pension payments depend on if expats are on the old or new system.

British pensioners across the EU and in a few other countries receive an index-linked new state pension worth £164.35 a week or £8,546.20 a year from April 6.

The old state pension will increase to £125.95 a week or £6,549.40 a year at the same time.

Only pensioners living in countries with a reciprocal benefits agreement with the UK receive the annual increase – the rest are frozen at the level of the first payment.

The DWP has a team of investigators tracking down benefit and state pension fraudsters in Spain, the most popular overseas destination for expats.

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  1. But the biggest fraudster of all is the UK government who impose this iniquitous discriminatory policy in the first place. The DWP have confirmed in an FOI that a reciprocal or bilateral agreement is not necessary and the government could uprate unilaterally if it had the will to do so. Where is the fairness and justice in denying just 4% of all pensioners who have contributed to the NI scheme on the same terms as everyone else their rightful index linking?
    No while these pensioners are in breach of the law it is articles such as this that are addressing the ıssue from the wrong dırectıon…it is the government and its policy that need to be brought to account, not the pensioner.

  2. I am not surprised that so many people try to defraud the UK government,as described in this article. I know of a 98 year old lady who by not defrauding the UK government has been denied over the 38 years she has lived with her daughter in Australia, about £135,000! it’s worth the risk to avoid this kind of loss. If the UK pension was fairly and equally up-rated for all expats with no age discrimination, which happens at the governments behest, then there would be no need to pay for a team of investigators to discover who is not “playing the game”. The current unfair UK pension practice is outrageous and incompatible with the Rule of Law,the Commonwealth Charter and Parliament’s MP’s code of conduct. The UK Government is at risk of alienating its Commonwealth partners who are being encouraged to have the UK suspended from the Commonwealth for their appalling pension practice, the UK being the only OECD nation with such a disgraceful approach to paying pensions which they do to save about £600M which is a minuscule fraction of the £100 billion annual level of of pension [National Insurance] receipts.

  3. The DWP also made this claim a couple of years ago and when asked about the amount of money lost to ‘expat fraud’ in a FOI request they had to admit they had no information to back up their claim. One has to ask how much money is being spent on tracking these so called fraudsters, I don’t disagree some are doing this but if the UK government didn’t steal the indexing from the 4% who are victims of this injustice and discrimination then this fraud wouldn’t happen in the first place. It’s called cause and effect, treating a minority differently when all are entitled to be treated the same is an outrageous scandal and the UK is the only member of the OECD to treat it’s seniors in this disgraceful way, shame on them.

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