7 Jun 2014

Pathetic sentence for blatant benefit fraud

A benefit cheat from Essex was caught skiing in Florida despite claiming that rheumatoid arthritis meant she was unable to walk more than two or three metres. (h/t Dave)

Janet Curtis, of Clacton, fleeced the taxpayer of more than £140,000 in council tax and housing benefit payments.

But in reality she was enjoying lavish foreign holidays, including a cruise on the QEII and the trip to Florida.

The 64-year-old was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years and a six month curfew, to run between 7pm and 6am after earlier pleading guilty to nine offences.

She will also have to repay all the money owed.

Curtis also claimed she was unable to function independently and needed 24-hour care, claiming additional benefit as she said she had a live-in carer and therefore needed an additional bedroom.

The receipts she submitted for care services proved to be fakes, after it was established that the person Curtis claimed was her carer had in fact never cared for her, and had not even seen her for several years.

She also continued to falsely claim benefits for a house in Suffolk for more than a decade after she had moved out to live with her partner in Clacton.

A joint investigation was then started between Suffolk Coastal’s Corporate Counter-Fraud Unit and Department for Work and Pensions investigators, which resulted in her homes being raided by Essex Police – and evidence seized, including film and photographs of her enjoying an active life and holidaying abroad.

Speaking after the case, Cllr Doreen Savage, Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet member with responsibility for Housing, said: “This was one of the most prolonged and serious cases of fraud which our investigators have ever had to deal with. Curtis’s web of deceit stretched back to the 1990s and only stopped when she was caught.”

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