I found the following list of things that count as benefit fraud:
Benefit theft includes:
- not telling us that you are now living with a partner
- not telling us that you are receiving other benefits
- not telling us about any savings or not telling us the right amount
- claiming for children who have left home
- not telling us that you have started work, or about any earnings
- not telling us that you have inherited money
- not telling us that you are going abroad, living abroad, or have changed address.
Basically, deliberately withholding information that affects your claim.
If you are claiming benefits, or your partner is, make sure that you haven't accidentally fallen foul of any of these.
Regarding your ex, I don't think you should worry. As far as I could see, the key is 'deliberately withholding information' - you haven't completed any forms for him with untruths on, you haven't called the benefit people with false information. Therefore you haven't commited an offence. If he has, then he has. I should think that benefit fraud in one half of a separated/divorcing couple isn't that rare (I know he may well be innocent, but looking at the 'worst case scenario') and it would be 'ultra vires' meaning 'outside the law' for a judge to rule that you had to pay for his fraud. Like his brother wouldn't be made to pay, nor his mother. Cos he is an adult and responsible for his own actions.
I used to work as an EHO and we sometimes prosecuted people for things regarding rented houses. It was the person responsible who had to 'carry the can' - if someone had broken the law, they had to take the consequences and their partner would not be involved unless they too had commited an offence themselves. From reading on the DWP site I think it is the same for you.
So, in a longwinded way, i am trying to say don't worry. just check that all your details are completely up to date with the benefit people if relevant. Then go your merry way and forget about your ex's finances.
It may be that in their investigations they ask you questions. If they do so, answer them honestly. Also probably sensible to mention to your lawyer that he has told you he's being investigated, but your involvement would be at most 'routine questions'. So don't worry about it.
I used to work on the same floor as the benefit chaps, so below is my understanding from minor involvement in the past:
Punishment is usually along the lines of fines and paying back the benefit claimed but shouldn't have been. The ammount to be paid takes into account the individuals finances - and usually it can be paid in installments - so much a week/month to make sure it is affordable.
The procedure is along the lines of initially notify that are under investigation then:
investigate to see whether thought to be fraud going on - includes looking at bank accounts, business transactions, asking questions, in some cases 'tailing' the suspect to see where he goes and what he does, asking questions of family/colleagues.
Once they have enough information they either drop the case as not fraudulent/not enough evidence.
Or they do a PACE interview with the suspect (i.e. your ex) this is an official recorded interview, and they use the formal caution that the police use 'anything you say may be used as evidence....etc'. These take a set format and are like a final screening before deciding what action to take.
Then they decide whether to drop the case or take it to court.
Having said all that, it does sound as if he may possibly be looking for attention though. so another reason not to panic about it.
Incidentally, if it does turn out to be true that he is being investigated, and you want to know more about what to do etc, feel free to pm me with any questiosn and I will see if I can help.