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28 Jan 2014

Councillor praises light benefit fraud sentence

An Ipswich benefit cheat who admitted fiddling more than £48,000 from the taxpayer has been spared jail.

Emma O’Connor admitted five offences when she appeared before South East Suffolk Magistrates Court.

The 36-year-old admitted dishonestly failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and Ipswich Borough Council she was living with her partner while still claiming benefits.

The offences spanned periods over three-and-a-half years, with the overpayments made totalling £48,684.

O’Connor pleaded guilty knowingly being concerned in the fraudulent payment of tax credits from the DWP. These amounted to £33,581.27. She also admitted fiddling £10,021.55 in housing benefit and £3,694.81 in council tax benefit. In addition O’Connor falsely claimed £2,386.97 in income support from the DWP.

Pretty comprehensive. The frauds ran for three and a half years. She stole over £48,000 from us. And what did the magistrates do?

Ipswich magistrates gave O’Connor a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.

She must also undertake a supervision requirement.

O’Connor was also ordered to pay £100 towards prosecution costs and £80 to the victims’ fund.

She is also expected to repay the £48,000 over a period of time.

Goodness, they really threw the book at her.

After the case Councillor Martin Cook, Ipswich Borough Council’s Resources portfolio-holder, said:
This is a very satisfactory result. We are determined to pursue benefit fraudsters whenever it is possible to do so on behalf of all council tax-payers. Our fraud team is both vigilant and determined. Our message is: there is no hiding place for fraudsters.
So this is a punishment Mr Cook considers "very satisfactory" for a £48,000 theft. How pathetic.

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