20 May 2015

Jail for £48k benefit cheat

A woman who fraudulently claimed more than £48,000 in benefits she wan not entitled to has been jailed for 16 months. (h/t Dave)

Nadine Pirincci, from North Weald, admitted 12 offences - seven relating to making false statements, four of failing to notify of a change in circumstances and one of producing or furnishing a false document to dishonestly claim benefits - when she appeared in court earlier this month.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told Pirincci received a total of £48,176 from Epping Forest Council and the Department of Work and Pensions in housing benefit, council tax benefit, income support and jobseekers allowance.

But after carrying out some investigations, the council discovered that a property in Forest Gate which Pirincci said she was selling was taken off the market before she started claiming benefit and she let it out during the period of her claim.

As she said the property was for sale and provided documentation appearing to confirm that was the case,it was temporarily disregarded for benefit purposes as allowed for in the regulations. Later, when her claim was reviewed, she stated she no longer owned any property.

She owned more than £86,000 of equity in the property and investigators also discovered that during the period of her claim she received a divorce settlement of £67,000 which she concealed in her children's bank accounts.

She was also paid for work which she did not declare and received a number of cash payments which she could not explain. The court was also told that in total she held more than £80,000 in undeclared bank accounts.

Pirincci originally pleaded not guilty to the offences at Colchester Magistrates Court in August 2014 and the case was sent to the crown court for trial. However, she changed her plea to guilty on the first day.

Pirincci paid back the benefits she was not entitled to when her deceit was discovered and prosecution proceedings were commenced.

Speaking after the case, Councillor Syd Stavrou, finance portfolio holder at Epping Forest Council, said: "This is a blatant case of someone meaning to cheat the system. The defendant deliberately set out to deceive the council and the DWP from the beginning and continued to dishonestly claim benefits which she knew she was not entitled to, at the expense of the tax payer. I am pleased the judge took a strong stance and awarded a tough sentence. I hope it will act as a deterrent to others and makes it clear that benefit fraud cannot be tolerated."

Pirincci will serve half of the sentence in prison and the remainder on licence.


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