Glastonbury resident Julie Rayner was jailed after pleading guilty to four counts of benefit fraud at Taunton Crown Court. Benefit inspectors said she had defrauded the taxpayer of more than £167,000.
Rayner, 50, made a claim for income support and housing benefit on the basis that she was a single parent in 2000. But she admitted that her break-up was temporary, and that she was living with her husband when claiming benefits this year.
Following a tip-off this year she was interviewed by fraud investigation officers from Mendip District Council and the DWP. Under caution she stated that she had briefly separated from her husband after a row in the summer of 2000 and that he did not live with her. When asked where he did live she replied that she did not know. When the interviewing officers pointed out that this was 14 years ago she replied that her husband did reside with her. The interview went on to establish that her husband was in full-time employment and contributed to the upkeep of the household.
Overpayments over the period 2000 to 2014 amounted to £119,651.80 in income support and £47,578.10 in housing benefit.
Steve Shrimplin, principal revenues and benefits officer for Mendip, said:
This is a great success story for both agencies. We’ve successfully prosecuted this person and now over £167,000 will begin to be repaid to the public purse. I urge anyone who suspects benefit fraud to contact us on our dedicated fraud hotline.This is "a great success"? She took Mendip Council and the DWP for £167k, which we probably won't get back, and she would still be claiming today if it wasn't for the tip off.
In what way does Mr Shrimplin consider this a great success?