Your Move has launched an internal investigation after a court was told that an estate agent was arrested on his first day of work at a Your Move branch.
The firm last night said that Stephen Ward was arrested at his home, before he began working for them – but it had been unaware of his arrest.
Ward had continued to claim disability benefits of £7,600 in total for three years after he had moved to Cyprus, where he worked as an estate agent.
Ward, 49, was entitled to the benefits while living in the UK but had failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions when he emigrated with his wife and two children.
The payments, made in respect of a serious motorbike accident in his twenties which left him struggling to walk, should have ceased after he moved to Deryneia, Cyprus.
Ward, who returned to Lancashire, admitted to fraud by failing to disclose that he was no longer living in the UK.
He was ordered to repay all the money and wear a tag.
He will have to pay £7,633 at the rate of £20 per week, plus £85 court costs and a £60 victim surcharge. He must also keep to a curfew to stay at home between 7pm and 7am.
Burnley Magistrates Court was told by Nick Cassidy, defending, that all the offences were committed before he began working for Your Move, which had said it would allow him to continue working for them.
Newspaper reports say that the court heard that his arrest, at the Your Move branch in King William Street, Blackburn, followed a tip-off from a neighbour. He had been in Cyprus from March 2007 until April 2010.
However, last night, a spokesperson for Your Move told us: “We were not aware of the arrest as this had taken place at his home before he began working for Your Move.
“Since the outcome of the hearing, however, we have launched an internal investigation into this matter.”