A couple who fraudulently claimed more than £23,000 in benefits have been handed a suspended jail sentence and ordered to repay the money in full.
A court heard that Beata Tokarova submitted an application for housing benefit and Council Tax benefit to Cheshire East Council in October 2009, claiming that she was a lone parent and on a low income following the breakdown of her relationship with her partner, Marian Cverna.
Tokarova continued to claim to be a single mum on low income for more than four years.
However, an investigation by Cheshire East Council’s benefit investigation team found Tokarova was lying – and had been living with Cverna, who had been supporting the family financially during all that time.
Tokarova, 40, and Cverna, 42, both of Furnival Street, Crewe, pleaded guilty at South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court, sitting at Crewe (on February 24).
Tokarova admitted one charge of dishonestly making a false representation to obtain housing benefit and Council Tax benefit. Cverna admitted one charge of aiding Tokarova to make the false representation to obtain benefits.
The court was told that Cverna had lived with Tokarova continuously and that the claim for benefit was false from the outset.
The court heard Tokarova and Cverna received state benefits totalling £23,323 to which they were not entitled.
In addition to having to repay all the overpaid benefits, Tokarova and Cverna were both sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
They were also both ordered to do 250 hours’ unpaid work and pay a victim surcharge of £80. Magistrates also ordered the pair to pay court costs of £834.50.
Councillor Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of finance, said: “Benefit fraud is simply not tolerated by this authority. We are an enforcing Council and committed to ensuring such offenders are brought to justice.
“This case shows that attempts to cheat the system will only leave perpetrators much worse off. We proactively investigate cases like this to prevent fraudsters taking money away from those who really need help.”
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
If you think someone is committing benefit fraud, you can ring the confidential freephone fraud hotline on 0800 389 2787. You don’t have to give your name and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, you can report suspected fraud via the Council’s website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk