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8 Oct 2014

Small fines for double benefit frauds

A woman from Snodland who gave two false statement to council officers has been found guilty of benefit fraud.

Fifty-year-old Daniella Peirce pleaded not guilty at her initial hearing in April, but when she appeared at Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court on Friday, September 25, she was found guilty on two counts of knowingly making a false statement.

Mrs Peirce failed to tell Tonbridge and Malling council that her partner was living with her when she applied for benefits on two separate occasions.

The first fraudulent claim was submitted to the council in November 2008 and ran until mid 2009. This was then followed by a second in November 2011. When questioned, Mrs Peirce said she had not seen her partner as a resident of her home as he was a long distance lorry driver and was only home at weekends when he was not working.

The council's benefit department, however, formed the view that her address was his main place of residence and found that she had been overpaid £6,285.53 in housing benefit and £822.38 in council tax benefit over the space of two and a half years.

Magistrates agreed with this and as she had knowingly supplied false statements, was fined a total of £350 - £175 for each offence - plus a victim surcharge of £15. She will also have to repay all the money she fraudulently claimed, plus the council’s court costs.

Cllr Martin Coffin, cabinet member for finance, innovation and property, called it a successful prosecution.

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