Scottish Daily Mail
He didn’t see it coming: Clairvoyant benefits cheat caught in the gym
A CLAIRVOYANT who swindled almost £70,000 by claiming he was so disabled he could barely walk has been jailed after he was secretly filmed working out in the gym. Over 14 years, Timothy Abbott, 53, conned the tax- payer out of tens of thousands of pounds in disability, council tax and housing benefits along with wife his Janette, 46.
Abbott claimed £35,496 in incapacity benefit and £22,848 in disability living allowance between 1998 and 2012, a court heard. But he was rumbled when undercover fraud investigators filmed him exercising in the gym on January 8, 2012.
Dressed in a black muscle vest, Abbott was captured carrying out a strenuous exercise regime on an exercise bike, rowing machine and treadmill, as well as lifting dumbbells. Last year he pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of a change in circumstances.
He also admitted failing to pay £9,532 in income tax or national insurance contributions.
This week Abbott – who advertises himself as an ‘international spiritualist clairvoyant medium and tutor’ – was jailed for eight months.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court also heard his wife falsely claimed £19,477 in disability allowance, £713 in incapacity benefit, along with £1,000 in council tax benefit.
She also fraudulently claimed £37,000 worth of income support and conned Staffordshire County Council
‘Claimed he could barely walk’
out of £44,000 in housing benefits. But she was filmed by investigators on December 7, 2012, bending down and carrying a heavy shoulder bag while on a shopping trip.
At a previous hearing, she admitted three counts of failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances, one count of making a false statement and one of falsely obtaining benefits by deception.
However, she escaped jail after being sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
On his website, Abbott is described as being one of Britain’s most ‘evidential platform Mediums’.
It goes on to say he became aware of the spirit world aged 19 before he ‘embarked on his journey of development’ by studying mediumship for more than 30 years. His services are apparently in demand in countries such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Canada.
Yesterday his wife said: ‘It has been two and half years of hell and I don’t really want to talk about it as my husband got put away yesterday. It’s killing me.
‘In our opinion the truth has not been fully told and we feel very unfairly treated.’
A DWP spokesman said: ‘ Benefit fraud is a crime and we are dedicated to catching those who commit it.
‘Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases such as this cost the taxpayer money that should be used to help those in need.
‘We are determined to find those who we suspect are cheating the system by following up on tip- offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils.’
The pair lived together in a £200,000 detached house in Stafford until their scam was exposed.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will now take place on June 30 to determine how much of their ill-gotten gains they will have to pay back.