A FRAUDSTER falsely claimed more than £5,000 in benefits while running an unlicensed taxi service using a vehicle given to him for his disability, a court heard.

Witnesses told Huntingdon Magistrates' Court that they had paid Timothy Ballard for his taxi service, which he ran using a vehicle provided to him by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Lowri Marks, prosecuting for Huntingdonshire District Council, also told magistrates that evidence had been obtained from various sources showing that Ballard had advertised for work and even had magnetic plates made up, which he attached to the car. He also had business cards, witnesses said.

Ballard, of Oaktree Court, Godmanchester, pleaded not guilty to three charges of benefit fraud, involving housing benefit and pension credits, between July 2010 and April 2011 but was found guilty at a trial on January 25.

The 69-year-old claimed a total of £5,085 - which he will have to pay back in full.

Any future benefits he receives will be reduced following the conviction, a Huntingdonshire District Council spokesman said, and he will also have to pay £600 court costs to the council.

He received a 24-month conditional discharge for the offences.

Councillor Barry Chapman, Executive Councillor for Customer Services at HDC, said: “The council takes all fraud very seriously and we are satisfied that the magistrates view the situation as seriously as we do.

“Prosecution is always a last resort, but we will pursue people who falsely claim benefits they are not entitled to.”

The court heard that Ballard had previously received a caution in 2010, when he admitted claiming benefits whilst working for a parcel delivery company. On that occasion, he admitted using another car provided due to his disability.

HDC encouraged anyone aware of someone defrauding the council to contact its confidential fraud hotline on 01480 388188.

“Leave as much information as possible to ensure that the council is aware of the full facts before an investigation starts. All reports received will be dealt with,” a spokesman added.