Wednesday, 11 January 2012
SUSPENDED PRISON SENTENCE FOR BENEFIT CHEAT
A Birchington woman, who fraudulently claimed almost £50,000 in housing benefit has been handed a suspended prison sentence and has been electronically tagged for four months.
Thanet District Council, working in partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions, brought the case against Suzanne Campbell (50), from Canterbury Road, Birchington. She had been receiving housing benefit initially for a property in Westbury Road, Westgate, then she moved to Argyle Avenue, Margate.
On her application forms, she stated that the landlord for both addresses was Gary Ledude, but investigations showed that he was in fact the father of her four children. On the application forms, Ms. Campbell had to declare whether the landlord is related to herself or children, as this affects someone's entitlement to claim housing benefit. On each occasion she claimed housing benefit, she ticked the “no” box in answer to this question.
As a result of this, she was paid £47,537.61 of housing benefit between February 2002 and June 2010 that she was not entitled to claim. She was interviewed under caution and stated that she did not read the question properly on all the application forms she completed. She did not think she had done anything wrong, but admitted she was dishonest for not completing the forms correctly.
She pleaded guilty to benefit fraud when she appeared before the Judge at Canterbury Crown Court. They handed out an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years. Ms. Campbell was also given a curfew for four months, from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am each day, which will be monitored by an electronic tag. She will also have to pay back the benefits she fraudulently claimed and the court costs.
Cllr. Michelle Fenner, Cabinet Member for Business Services, said: “This case shows how not being honest about your circumstances can result in massive overpayments. As a result of this fraud over many years, a huge amount of money has been taken out of the taxpayers’ purse.”
To report someone you suspect of Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit fraud call 01843 577369 or via the council’s websitewww.thanet.gov.uk
To notify the council of a change in your circumstances if you are claiming benefits, call 01843 577000 or e-mail email@example.com