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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 10:51 GMT
Campaign targets benefit cheats
Benefit fraud poster
The posters will be displayed in public places such as betting shops
A campaign to crack down on benefit cheats will aim to reach criminals in the places where they spend their cash.

The "no ifs, no buts" campaign carries a message that there is no excuse for committing benefit fraud.

The government estimates that benefit cheats stole almost 1bn last year, compared with 2.1bn in 2001.

The anti-fraud message will be displayed on beer mats and in pub toilets, bingo halls and betting shops across Britain.

A television advertising campaign will also highlight the message that benefit fraud is a "real" crime with "real" victims.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions John Hutton said: "Benefit fraud is theft.

"We are committed to catching benefit thieves and bringing the toughest penalties against those who commit this crime.

"The public are fed up with benefits thieves stealing money intended for society's most vulnerable. There are no excuses for taking money that isn't yours."

The Department for Work and Pensions carried out more than 52,000 prosecutions, sanctions and cautions on benefit fraudsters in 2005.

Among the many varied excuses given by fraudsters to inspectors was one that said: "I wasn't using the ladders to clean the windows, I carried them for therapy for my bad back."

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