Benefit cheat caught earning on eBay

A man from Eccleston has been found guilty of two offences of fraudulently claiming over £7,000 in benefits whilst earning an income by trading on eBay.

Paul Edward Woodacre, 57, of Bradley Lane, claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit from his previous addresses in Heskin and Eccleston having declared to Chorley Council that his only income was from his two private pensions and the carer’s allowance his wife received until May 2011.

However, South Ribble magistrates heard he was also gaining an income from buying and selling silver items on eBay, which he had failed to declare on a claim form in 2009 and again in 2010.

Mr Woodacre pleaded not guilty to the charges and represented himself at his trial.

He claimed he was not running a business and did not deliberately make a false statement when he failed to declare the income his trading was generating.

He admitted he had an eBay shop, but referred to the trading as a self-fulfilling hobby.

Therefore, he believed, when he submitted claims there was no requirement for him to declare the income.

But magistrates rejected his argument and found in favour of the council.

Coun Peter Wilson, who oversees benefits for Chorley Council, said: “Many people use internet sites such as eBay and car boot sales to sell unwanted personal possessions.

“However, buying goods to re-sell is quite a different matter and this activity plus any income generated must be declared when claiming means-tested benefits.”

Steps are being taken to recover the overpaid benefit in full.

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