Man sentenced for fraud and perverting the course of justice

The investigation began when Veterans UK, part of MOD’s Defence Business Services, in Blackpool raised concerns regarding the pension of a war veteran who may have died and was still being paid. It was reported to the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) and officers at Portsmouth took forward the investigation in relation to suspect, Michael Wilson, from the Isle of Wight, Hampshire.

The case involved the war pension of a retired serviceman being re-routed to the account of the suspect by several telephone calls to the Veterans UK helpline. Between 13 August and 23 September 2019, five calls were made by an individual claiming to be the war veteran and requesting that they change the account to which his war pension was being paid, to the account of Mr Wilson (who had no connection to the MOD or the veteran).

During this time the veteran was in the care of a local hospital and not in a fit condition to make such calls. He sadly passed away on 28 August. The calls made to Veterans UK were recorded and the male caller coughed and spluttered, trying to disguise his own voice whilst pretending to be the veteran.

Over the coming weeks, five payments of £433.42 were paid into an account in the name of Michael Wilson, totalling £2,167.10.

Following enquiries by MDP Portsmouth, on 28 August 2020 Mr Wilson was arrested for Fraud offences at his home address on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, and his home was subsequently searched. During the search his bank account statements were seized, showing all the payments from Veterans UK being received into an account in his name along with a bank card for the same account also in his name.

During interview on 28 August 2020, at Newport Police Station, Mr Wilson stated that he was not related to the veteran, but that he did know him as he had met him twice at a local bed and breakfast. He also claimed that he had attended the veteran’s funeral with his ex-partner.

Wilson proceeded to state that his ex-partner was solely responsible for the act of fraud against the veteran, as they had access to his bank account, bank card and phone. When played the tape recording of the phone calls to Veterans UK, Mr Wilson stated that it was his ex-partner on the phone.

When interviewed under caution and upon voluntary attendance at Bournemouth Police Station, the ex-partner denied all knowledge of fraud. Further police enquiries established they were at work in Bournemouth when the phone calls were made, this being many miles and a ferry ride away from Mr Wilson’s address.

Mr Wilson was subsequently charged with fraud and perverting the course of justice.

Following court appearances at Newport Crown Court, on the Isle of Wight, he pleaded guilty to both offences, and on Friday 10 December 2021 was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment: nine months for Fraud and a consecutive nine months for Perverting the course of Justice.

MDP Portsmouth identified that a sum of money had been seized by Hampshire Police in an unrelated investigation and that was due to be returned to Mr Wilson. MDP Crime Command successfully had a restraint order approved against the money, and the funds will be used to reimburse Veterans UK and the remaining monies were awarded to Crown Prosecution Service costs by the presiding judge.

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