Three fraudsters who falsely claimed a total of more than £19,800 in benefits have been successfully prosecuted by Cheshire East Council.
The trio will now have to repay in full all the benefits they obtained by deception.
Nikayla Thomas, of Cranberry Lane, Alsager, pleaded guilty before South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court, sitting at Crewe (on November 11, 2015), to making a false statement to obtain housing benefit and Council Tax benefit.
The court heard that Thomas, 27, had failed to declare she was in work when she made her application for housing benefit and Council Tax Benefit, which led to her receiving £6,426 in benefits that she was not entitled to.
Sentencing magistrates imposed a curfew on Thomas between 8pm and 7am for an eight-week period and ordered her to pay costs to the Council of £450, court costs of £100 and a £60 victim’s surcharge.
In a separate prosecution, pensioners John Pullen, 71, and Lynette Pullen, 69, of Bollin Drive, Congleton, pleaded guilty before Crewe magistrates (November 13), to making a false statement to obtain housing benefit and Council Tax benefit to which they were not entitled.
The court was told the husband and wife had submitted a joint application form for benefit to the Council in August 2011, in which they failed to declare that Mrs Pullen was in work.
In submitting the false claim, the Pullens received £13,441 in benefits from the Council that they were not entitled to.
Magistrates sentenced Lynette Pullen to 12 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months and ordered her to complete 200 hours’ unpaid community work, pay £375 prosecution costs and an £80 victim’s surcharge.
John Pullen was sentenced to do 80 hours’ unpaid community work and ordered to pay £375 costs and a £60 victim’s surcharge.
In all cases where an individual has been prosecuted the overpayment will have to be repaid in full. All three prosecutions were brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member for communities, said: “Cheshire East is an enforcing Council that actively pursues the recovery of all fraudulently-obtained money to ensure taxpayers don’t lose out.
“Benefit fraud will not be tolerated and this authority is determined to stop fraudsters from helping themselves to money that belongs to law-abiding members of the public.
“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.
“They are now worse off as a result – as they now have criminal convictions for a serious offence of dishonesty and each faces a big bill to repay the money they 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.”
If you think someone is committing benefit fraud, you can ring the National Benefit Fraud hotline on 0800 854 440. You don’t have to give your name and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, you can report suspected fraud at www.gov.uk/report-benefit-fraud