7 Apr 2013

York woman was benefit thief for 10 years

A York pensioner has been jailed after a decade of fraud saw her pocket £56,000.

Peggy Scaum claimed benefits over a ten-year period while staying silent about her “substantial” savings, which had reached £15,000 in various accounts when a City of York Council investigation discovered her swindling.

The 65-year-old - who lived with her working partner - is starting a nine-month prison sentence after admitting four benefit fraud charges, despite having so far repaid about £13,000.

The council said the benefit system was only abused by “a few”, but those who did this faced prison.

Sentencing Scaum at York Crown Court, Recorder Bryan Cox QC said: “This is intended not just to punish you, but to send out a clear message to others who might be inclined to commit offences of this type”.

When told Scaum had not used the money for “high-living” but holidayed in Spain every year, the judge said: “Many would say those on benefits should not be enjoying such holidays”.

Scaum broke down following the sentencing, screaming: “I can’t go to prison, it will kill me”.

Michael Bosomworth, prosecuting, said Scaum fraudulently claimed £56,191 in various benefits between February 2001 and May 2011.

At one point, her Santander bank account alone contained £10,192.

“Her assertion was she was receiving little financial support from her partner, but to accumulate savings like that simply by saving her own benefits is just incredible,” he said. “Her lifestyle was comfortable, but it would be wrong to say excessive or extravagant. She said she had not spent the money on high-living and intended to bequeath it to relatives.”

Katherine Robinson, defending Scaum, said: “Her partner made very little contribution to their household, and the financial pressures she felt she was under caused her to make these claims and effectively bury her head in the sand. She is incredibly remorseful, she is paying the money back and a substantial amount has been repaid. She is a lady of previously good character, and knows that is now tarnished and lost forever.”

A spokesperson for Veritau, which investigates fraud for the council, said: “The benefit system is designed to support those in genuine need, and this sends a strong message to those few that dishonesty does not pay and is another good result in the fight on fraud against the public purse.”

1 comment:

Michi said...

I don't understand why she was only charged with four frauds. Every payment received that a claimant is not entitled to should be classed as an individual fraud.