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2 Jul 2013

Council solicits tip-offs as benefit thief is jailed

A Cambourne benefit cheat has been sent to prison after being found guilty of over £81,000 of benefit fraud, reports the Hunts Post.

Vicky Cooling, 31, was sentenced to 24 weeks at Cambridge Crown Court, of which she will serve half behind bars.

She had claimed benefits as a single parent but failed to tell two councils and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she had a partner living with her who was in full time work.

Cooling denied two charges of dishonestly failing to report changes in her circumstances and two charges of dishonestly making false statements to obtain benefit in May and the judge ruled today she would serve four 24 week sentences concurrently.

The prosecution was brought by South Cambridgeshire District Council on behalf of itself, Borough of Broxbourne Council and the DWP.

Cooling fraudulently claimed £41,590 in housing and Council Tax benefit while living in Broxbourne between 2007 and 2011, and £7,956 while living in South Cambridgeshire. She was also found to have been overpaid £31,941 in income support and Jobseekers allowance from the DWP.

A further hearing will take place in October to decide on confiscation of her assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act to repay fraudulently claimed benefits.

The case was the largest benefit fraud case South Cambridgeshire District Council had taken to court.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said:
Fraudsters rely on honest people not reporting them but it is important to remember it is not a victimless crime. It takes money away from our communities and services and affects us all in some way. We take a tough line on fraud and it’s not a question of if we catch fraudsters, but when.

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