Two fraudsters who falsely claimed more than £15,000 in benefits between them have been successfully prosecuted by Cheshire East Council.
The pair will now have to repay in full all the benefits they claimed by deception.
Amanda Edge, of Marshfield Avenue, Crewe, pleaded guilty before South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court, sitting at Crewe (on September 30, 2015), to falsely receiving housing benefit, Council Tax benefit and Council Tax support totalling £7,565 to which she was not entitled.
Edge, 44, had claimed the benefits on the basis that she was on a low income. However, an investigation by Cheshire East Council’s benefit fraud investigation team found she had not declared to the authorities that her income had increased – and had fraudulently claimed the benefits for more than four years.
Magistrates sentenced Edge to complete 60 hours’ unpaid community work. She was also ordered to pay £575 court costs and a £60 victim’s surcharge and will have to repay in full the overpaid benefits.
In a separate prosecution, Jenna Goodall, of Harrison Drive, Crewe, pleaded guilty before Crewe magistrates (September 23), to obtaining housing benefit to which she was not entitled.
Goodall, 28, had falsely claimed the benefits saying she was on a low income. However, an investigation by Cheshire East Council’s benefit fraud investigation team discovered she had failed to declare an increase in her earnings.
In failing to declare this, she was overpaid state benefits totalling £7,571.
Magistrates ordered Goodall to pay a fine of £495, prosecution costs of £500 and a £49 victim’s surcharge. In addition, she will have to repay in full all the benefits she fraudulently received.
Both prosecutions were brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member for communities, said: “We are an enforcing Council and we are committed to stopping people from unlawfully helping themselves to taxpayers’ money.
“Benefit fraud will not be tolerated. The defendants in these cases thought they could get away with claiming benefits they were not entitled to – but they were making a very big mistake and will find themselves worse off as a result.
“They have ended up with criminal convictions for a serious offence of dishonesty and now each face a big bill to repay the money they have fraudulently claimed.
“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.”
Since January 1 this year, Cheshire East Council has uncovered more than £890,000 in benefit fraud and prosecutions have led to 30 criminal convictions.
The Council has also imposed 24 penalty notices and issued 24 cautions. All the fraudulently received monies are being recovered and repaid by the offenders.
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