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Too ill to work … but not to grab an alligator: ‘Disabled’ soldier who claimed £17,000 in benefits is caught out by holiday snap

Martin Crowson told staff at the benefits office that a crippling knee injury meant he could walk no further than 50 yards – netting him £17,000 over three years.

But when officials saw the former soldier’s holiday snaps, they realised they’d been conned.

The 53-year-old seemed far from incapable – and on his expensive family holidays, he did a lot more than lie by the pool. In Florida, he wrestled an alligator and in Tunisia he rode on a camel.

Gotcha! The holiday snap that sealed the fate of Martin Crowson -  who had claimed up to £17,000 in benefits for his 'injured knee' over  three years Gotcha! The holiday snap that sealed the fate of Martin Crowson – who had claimed up to £17,000 in benefits for his ‘injured knee’ over three years

But his pictures came to the attention of fraud investigators, who also found medals and trophies showing that Crowson had been visiting a gym for a jujitsu course – and gained a black belt.

His deception had begun to unravel when trading standards officers launched a crackdown on pirated DVDs and CDs, and he was filmed operating a market stall.

His home was raided by the Department of Work and Pensions and the photographs were discovered.

He claimed the black belt was for theory, not combat, but when investigators went to the gym they found he was one of the best students. The married father-of-four was jailed for a year.

An investigator said: ‘We all knew the game was up for him when we found the alligator picture.’

Benefits for the disabled have proved controversial because of the scope for fraud.

The amount paid out has more than tripled since ‘invalidity benefit’ was introduced in the 1970s, leading to accusations that many recipients are not genuine.

Until 1971, the disabled were treated like anyone who was out of work. The Tories, under Edward Heath, introduced ‘invalidity benefit’, recognising many cannot work because of their disability.

But under Margaret Thatcher costs spiralled, as thousands of men lost their jobs in the mining and manufacturing and signed on to invalidity rather than the dole.

Soon ministers began to look at ways to cut the bill. In 1995, social security secretary Peter Lilley brought in ‘incapacity benefit’ -which was taxable and subject to tougher eligibility rules. Numbers claiming fell until 1998, when they began to rise under Labour.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1290163/Too-ill-work—grab-alligator-Disabled-soldier-claimed-17-000-benefits-caught-holiday-snap.html#ixzz0s6a8th1B

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