A 59-year-old woman who cheated the benefits system out of more than £38,000 has received a suspended jail term after her fraud was uncovered by Cheshire East Council.
Patricia Gregory, of Hough Close, Rainow, Macclesfield was sentenced to 30 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months with 12 months’ supervision, by a judge at Chester Crown Court on Friday, March 20.
She had already pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly failing to report a change in her circumstances that she knew would affect her entitlement to Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Income Support.
The court heard that Gregory had claimed all three benefits since October 2007 on the basis that she was a single person on a low income.
However, investigators from Cheshire East Council and the Department for Work and Pensions discovered that Gregory’s husband been living with her since summer 2009 and had been supporting her financially.
Gregory cheated the system to the tune of more than £38,000 by failing to declare that her husband was sharing the family home and by actively maintaining the fraudulent claim for more than four years.
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Steph Cordon, Cheshire East Council’s Head of Communities, said: “It is a big mistake for fraudsters to think they can get away with claiming benefits they are not entitled to.
“They risk being prosecuted and ending up with a criminal conviction for a serious offence of dishonesty.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards benefit fraud because we are determined to ensure that the benefits system works for people who really need help.”
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