19 Jun 2015

Leeds benefit cheat claimed over £27k

A Leeds pensioner claimed over £27,000 in benefits she was not entitled to over a period of eight years, a court heard

Shahnaz Begum, 67, made false claims for income support, council tax benefits and pension credits until she confessed her offending to authorities.

Leeds Crown Court heard Begum began making the illegal claims in March 2005 for council tax benefit and income support despite being in receipt of an occupational pension. She then made illegal claims for pension credits between 2008 and 2013 until the deception came to light.

Simon Haring, prosecuting, said Begum had received a lump sum upon retirement in 2005 and thereafter monthly payments which she failed to declare. Authorities became aware of the illegal claims in May 2013 when a pension credit review was held and Begum revealed that she had been receiving too much money.

Mr Haring said: “She said in interview that she had health issues and that she believed that she had earned that money and so it was hers.”

Begum pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to notify a change in circumstances and two of making a false statement to obtain benefits.

She has so far paid back over £6,000 of the money she illegally claimed and faces a further court hearing heard under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Christopher Smith, mitigating, said Begum was sorry and ashamed of her offending and was of previous good character. He said Begum began committing the offences at a time when she became a widow and had four daughters to look after.

Begum was given a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay costs of £80. Recorder Charles Ekins said: “it is plain that you are thoroughly ashamed.”


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