Man pleads guilty to using his dead mum’s bus pass after investigation by Cornwall Council’s Counter Fraud Team

A man who used his dead mother’s concessionary bus pass to obtain free travel around Cornwall has been fined in court after an investigation by Cornwall Council’s Counter-Fraud Team.

Adam Oats, 39, of Pollards Close, Goonhavern, pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the fraudulent use of the bus pass at Truro Magistrates Court on 20 February 2019.  

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The court heard that Oats’ mother died in February 2017 and on 2 May 2018 he tried to use her pass in Truro on a bus operated by the First South West Ltd bus company. The bus driver immediately realised that it did not belong to him, challenged him and then confiscated it.

An investigation subsequently undertaken by the Council’s Counter-Fraud Team culminated in the prosecution after Oats had failed to cooperate with investigators by not responding to two requests to attend an interview under caution.

The investigation had established that since the death of Mrs Oats the pass had been illegally used on 516 occasions, the cost of which had been borne by the Council and amounted to £731.18.

In court, Oats, through his solicitor, admitted that he had used the pass after his mother had died but denied using it on 516 occasions claiming that he had only used it on 10 occasions. He however agreed to reimburse the amount of £731.18 in full to the Council.     

He was fined £80, ordered to pay a £100 contribution toward costs, and ordered to pay an additional £30 victim surcharge.

The Council’s Head of Internal Audit, Counter-Fraud, Risk and Insurance, Simba Muzarurwi, said: “The illegal use of concessionary bus passes diverts tax-payers money from other key public services and this prosecution is a clear indication that the Council does not tolerate any forms of fraudulent activity.

"The Council is committed to protecting public funds and it will not hesitate to investigate any suspected cases of fraud that are brought to our attention.

"Cornwall Council operates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to fraud and corruption. If you suspect fraud is occurring we would be happy to talk to you on our confidential fraud hotline. Call us on freephone 0800 7316125 or you can contact us by emailing at fraud@cornwall.gov.uk."