Newspapers promote no-win-no-fee benefit fraudster

27 May 2010

And so to the letters page of yesterday's Evening Telegraph, a local newpaper for Dundee:

Bitterwallet - Benefit Information Services Ltd

An organisation called the Benefits Information Service quoting figures concerning allowances and receiving promotion in a local newspaper - that sounds like a government-run scheme, doesn't it? And it's not the first time the Daily Telegraph has published letters from the Benefits Information Service; here's another from earlier this year. The same letter by Suzanne Brennan also appeared in yesterday's Huddersfield Daily Examiner, which published another letter by Brennan in September last year.

Paul Brennan from the same organisation has also penned many similar letters; there's lifestyle magazine Cumbria Life in 2006, the Eskdale & Liddlesdale Advertiser in 2007, the Somerset County Gazette in 2007, Bury Free Press in November 2008. A Google search will reveal plenty of gullible publications that are happy to promote the Benefits Information Service without digging any deeper.

Trawling the net also reveals the organisation's website - benefitanswers.co.uk - which explains how the service works:

Let’s say you were awarded benefit paid at £45 a week, the claim was submitted on 1st September and a decision made on 27 October. That’s eight weeks money you would be owed, or £360. We ask you to pay us 40% of that £360 or £144. The £144 is not paid out of your pocket; it comes out of the money the DWP pay you. From 28 October you would be £45 a week better off; we have no interest in that, only your arrears or back pay as some people call it.

Yes you would lose some of your back pay but you would also end up better off each week. Our success rate is 85%!

Surely 60% of something and a weekly payment is better than 100% of nothing?

Offering a no-win, no-fee service certainly isn't a scam. What is a scam, however, is asking your client to lie at their upcoming benefits tribunal:

All Sandra MacKinnon wanted was for a tribunal to recognise her pain and pay her disability living allowance. But when she answered a newspaper advertisement and turned to benefits advisor Paul Brennan for help, she ended up as a victim of a scam.

Brennan, who runs Benefits Information Services Ltd, wrote a letter listing ways she could lie about her disabilities to ensure a tribunal paid up. In the signed letter he told her to tell a string of “white lies” and then “outright lies” to the panel. He also wrote “don’t tell the tribunal chairman about this letter”.

But how did the tribunal learn of Brennan's attempts to corrupt his client?

In what he described as a “monumental cock-up”, he sent the letter destined for his client to the benefits tribunal panel in the wrong envelope.

Brennan was charged with carrying out acts designed to pervert justice. This occurred in November 2008, which may explain why all letters that have appeared in newspapers since have been signed by Suzanne Brennan, rather than Paul; Brennan's directorship of Benefit Information Services Ltd was terminated shortly after his trial. The content of the letters has remained almost identical, however, which is hardly a surprise - Bitterwallet has checked the company's returns and Brennan is listed as the current secretary and co-owner.

Ironically, the Evening Chronicle may have picked up on the story after Brennan was arrested in July 2008, but the paper ran one of his letters in October 2008 - three months his arrest and just a month before he went to court. The "newspaper advertisements" that were driving custom to Brennan were most likely the letters that went unchecked and published by the likes of the Chronicle.

Just to make it clear, then; no-win-no-fee services are not illegal, but asking your clients to lie in order receive benefits is. And there's nothing to say that Benefits Information Services Ltd have suggested clients mislead tribunals since Paul Brennan's trial, although he is still employed by the company which spends its days still carpet-bombing local newspapers, which in turn are so desperate to fill their pages they don't bother checking what they're publishing. Just so you know.

Thanks to avid Bitterwallet reader "nibbler loves paxton" for the tip-off. No, we don't know either.

TOPICS:   UK News   Economy

13 comments

  • Jonny S.
    I love how we've got to the point where people now help others get the maximum benefits!
  • The t.
    If I want benefit advice I go up the road and speak to the chavs, middle of the day like, wouldn't want to wake them.
  • jesua
    to the above poster badshittystocks.com you suck
  • davia
    is this any different to the immigration advisory service who do just this for illegal immigrants, both for the right to stay, then for a free council house and lots of benefits
  • Klingelton
    Scum facilitating scum.
  • CJN
    There are charitable organisations to help you fight tribunals, at least if you are of a mature age I recommend Age Concern
  • -]
    What CJN said - plenty of benefit advice centres in the country; some charitable, others grassroot & organised by claimants themselves. Also you should be paid from when you make the claim (well, a week after), not when the decision is made. And if you aren't paid it, you can claim it for free without forking out 40% to some ripoff artists. Working class people - regarded as scum by middle-class desk-jockeys who wouldn't know real work even if they ever had to do any.
  • ellen k.
    Hi, I am so glad of this site, i'm glad I went out looking to see if this is legit. I would of been next one on there list. I need some help with benfit, these looked like the ones to get it sorted. SO, STILL IN SHITE!
  • Judeth F.
    Have been sent letter from above asking me to pay £75 as a fee to be part of an ESA Support group. According to them by joining my benefit will continue. Is this part of the same scam? Please advise. Thank you Judeth Fenton
  • Rita L.
    They are actually NOT a scam. Where so called' help' services - funded by authorities - so, a conflict of interest - there's a clue there) FAIL abysmally - then who else can you turn to? This is just a propaganda , smear campaign, I have used them and will use them again and again if I need to do so. Once you have no money coming in, no bus fare to an 'advice buree' finally manage to get there to be told the queue cut off point is ten infront of yyou, finally get to go again queue in the rain to be allocated a slot but its with someone who is not expert or experienced in your needs, well meaning but hopeless, then you'll know exactly what the score is....They are offereing an invaluable service - which the government don't like..they'd rather keep you in the dark and have you believe the well recited mantra coming out of the mouths of government funded useless so called 'help' centres..oh..and you will find out, every time that no solicitors will touch it, although they will be happy to receive the legal aid money for 'advising' you...oh yes, been there done that....oh and I will be surprised if this doesn't get deleted..wouldn't want the truth coming put would we...
  • Rita L.
    Ah.. awaiting moderation, so wont be allowed I'd say....only comments which are false and critisice them allowed....
  • mark n.
    this man should be shot as I am ill with issues I wish not to say but I found his website emailed them they said we will help you but I didn't sign nothing as gut feeling about it. mate signed form in his name but sent my information to them to see if they would find away to get me personal payment .. I went to C.A.B who put plan together and very good I done all the appeal paperwork to court on my own then day of court I was met by man called carl linden? saying I'm doing your appeal today and he stated I'm only charging you 10% rest is going to paul brennan 33% I didn't even sign form now hes trying to take me to county court for £1435.39 I have all proof of this..
  • Alison r.
    My husband & I have been scammed by this horrible man, asking for £1,800 each, today I had the high court bailiff out, and one of the bully men assaulted me , he preys on disabled people, just don't go to him, I'm sure with enough people complaining he should be behind bars still.

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