A disabled man from Norwich has been found guilty of 7 counts of benefit fraud after making benefit claims while hiding thousands of pounds, which he won playing online poker, in six secret bank accounts. He unlawfully claimed £3,706 in council tax benefits until the disabled online poker player was caught cheating the benefit system.
Alan Forsyth, 36 pleaded guilty to seven charges of benefit fraud in Norwich Magistrates Court on Thursday after his savings which he made playing online poker were discovered. Back in 2003 Mr Forsyth started claiming council tax benefit but when he applied for the benefit he failed to disclose a second secret bank account that he held.
When he made the claim the secret account had little money in it but was hidden for the sole purpose of handling online poker winnings which he wanted to conceal from the authorities. The benefit fraudster continued to claim council tax benefit from the local authority fraudulently until June 2007, in which time the number of undeclared accounts which were held by Mr Forsyth had reached six, all of which were he to hide his online poker winnings from the authorities, including $49,000 which he won in just one day.
Mr Forsyth has been registered unable to work for the past 12 years due to being diagnosed with ME in 1997. In his defence Mr Forsyth’s solicitor stated in court that ‘This is not a well man. He suffers greatly with pains and fatigue. He has no potential prospect of being able to work again.’ In an interview with benefit assessors Mr Forsyth stated that his condition stopped him from filling out the forms completely. However the prosecution exclaimed “If you have the concentration to learn how to play poker to the standard where you can win $49,000 in a single day, you have the concentration to fill out a form.”
This online poker benefit fraudster received the news that he had been ordered to pay a total of £1,565 in fines; £200 for each offence, a £15 surcharge and £150 towards prosecution costs. But these fines will pale into insignificance compared to his online poker earnings which begs the question “Why claim for relatively small amounts of benefit if you have all that cash in the bank?”