A woman who fraudulently claimed nearly £12,000 in benefits will have to pay back every penny after she was caught and prosecuted by Cheshire East Council.
Sylvia Hatchard, 64, declared that she was a single person on a low income when she claimed £11,763.30 in Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Pension Credit, starting in March 2012.
But investigators from Cheshire East Council’s benefit investigations team found that she was not entitled to the money because her husband was living with her and had supported the household financially all the time she was claiming.
Hatchard, of Kendal Road, Macclesfield, admitted two charges of dishonestly making false claims when she appeared before South and East Cheshire Magistrates’ Court.
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Magistrates imposed a three-month curfew on Hatchard between the hours of 7pm and 7am and ordered her to pay £695 in prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
In addition, Hatchard will have to repay all the money she fraudulently obtained from Cheshire East Council and the Pension Service.
Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member for finance, said: “By claiming benefits they are not entitled to, fraudsters take money away from people who really need help. The message is clear: Cheshire East Council will track them down, prosecute them and ensure they do not profit from their crimes.”
Residents can report people they suspect of benefit fraud by calling free on the confidential fraud hotline number 0800 389 2787. There is no need to give a name and calls are treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, suspected fraud can be reported through the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk