The investigation began when Veterans UK, part of MOD’s Commercial Defense Services in Blackpool, raised concerns about the pension of a veteran who may have died and was still being paid. It was reported to the Ministry of Defense police (MDP) and Portsmouth officers furthered the investigation into suspect Michael Wilson, from Isle of Wight, Hampshire.
The case concerned the war pension of a retired serviceman who had been redirected to the suspect’s account by several phone calls to the British Veterans Hotline. Between August 13 and September 23, 2019, five calls were made by an individual claiming to be the veteran and asking him to change the account into which his war pension was paid to the account of Mr. Wilson (who no. ‘had no connection with the MOD or the veteran).
During this time, the veteran was being treated at a local hospital and was unable to make such calls. He sadly passed away on August 28. Calls to Veterans UK were recorded and the caller coughed and spat, trying to disguise his own voice while pretending to be the veteran.
Over the next few weeks, five payments of Â£ 433.42 were made to an account in Michael Wilson’s name, for a total of Â£ 2,167.10.
Following requests from MDP Portsmouth, on August 28, 2020 Mr Wilson was arrested on charges of fraud at his home on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, and his home was subsequently searched. During the search his bank account statements were seized showing all payments from Veterans UK received on an account in his name with a bank card for the same account also in his name.
In an interview on August 28, 2020, at Newport Police Station, Mr Wilson said he was not related to the veteran, but knew him because he had met him twice in a bed and local breakfast. He also claimed he attended the veteran’s funeral with his ex-partner.
Wilson then said 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. While playing the recording of the phone calls to Veterans UK, Mr Wilson said it was his ex-partner on the phone.
When questioned cautiously and during his voluntary presence at Bournemouth Police Station, the ex-partner denied any knowledge of fraud. Further police investigations established that they were at work in Bournemouth when the phone calls were made, several miles and a ferry ride from Mr Wilson’s address.
Mr Wilson was subsequently charged with fraud and obstruction of justice.
Following court appearances at Newport Crown Court on the Isle of Wight, he pleaded guilty to both offenses and on Friday 10 December 2021 was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment: nine months for fraud and nine consecutive months for misuse of the course of justice. .
MDP Portsmouth have identified that a sum of money was seized by Hampshire Police as part of an independent investigation and should be returned to Mr Wilson. MDP Crime Command has successfully had a money freeze order approved, and the funds will be used to reimburse Veterans UK and the remainder has been allocated to Crown Prosecution Service costs by the presiding judge.