7 Aug 2013

Mother stole £21,000 in benefits from taxpayers

A Kidderminster mother-of-three who claimed more than £21,000 in benefits while sitting on an investment account worth more than £87,000 has escaped going straight to jail. (h/t VNCounterFraud)

Louise Simpson signed on for income support and jobseekers allowance and claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit while her investments grew to £101,000, Worcester Crown Court was told. She immediately repaid the money after she was found out, Scott Coughtrie, prosecuting, told the court.

Simpson pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation by claiming when she was not entitled to benefits.

Mr Coughtrie said she started claiming on August 5, 2010 and, two months before that, her account with Investco Perpetual stood at a balance of £87,000. She carried on claiming for two years and seven months, taking £2,200 in income support, £3,930 in jobseekers allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions and £13,835 in housing benefit, as well as £1,840 in council tax benefit from Wyre Forest District Council.

During that time, her mother was giving her £500 a month and her investments were producing dividends of between £400 and £2,000 a month, he said.

Abigail Nixon, defending, said Simpson had started claiming when she was left on her own with three young daughters following the break-up of her marriage.

"She is genuinely sorry," Miss Nixon said. "Her sense of isolation and the difficulties she was having bringing up three young daughters virtually on her own caused her to behave in this way."

Miss Nixon said Simpson was prepared to go straight to prison and had arranged for her daughters to be looked after by a friend.

Judge Robert Juckes said Simpson had been "luckier than most" in terms of the money she had. It was a "flagrant fraud" committed when she was in a crisis and likely to have been suffering from depression following her separation.

"You might look back at the person you were at that time and wonder how you could have fallen so far below the standards you had set yourself," he told her.

Because the money had been repaid, there had been no loss and an immediate prison sentence would cause problems for her children so he had decided to suspend the sentence.

He gave Simpson a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, including a year's supervision and 180 hours of unpaid work.

She will also be subject to a curfew between 8pm and 7am for three months.

No comments: