Pensioner Lynn Doreen Swain was found to have swindled more than £90,000 over a 17-year period. The 68-year-old had spent years claiming she was living alone, but was in fact married.
Financial details obtained through the DWP found that during that time, Swain had even enjoyed a windfall on the lottery, landing more than £29,000.
Following the successful prosecution, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) issued a statement warning others about scrounging cash they are not entitled to.
Paul Baggeley, the DWP’s fraud manger said:
Most people claiming benefits are honest, but there are the unscrupulous minority who cheat taxpayers’ money out of our welfare system and divert it away from those who really need it. People pretending to live alone to get benefits is one of the most common types of benefit fraud, and this case shows our investigators are bringing criminals to justice. Failure to report a change in circumstances that may affect your benefit claim, such as a partner moving in, is a crime. Small amounts of weekly overpayments build up and you could end up having to pay back tens of thousands of pounds. People must tell us if their situation changes before it’s too late.Swain came to the attention of the authorities through data matching, when agencies come together to share information on suspected benefit cheats.
It was found that she had been fraudulently claiming from December 1996, up to November 2013.
She had been claiming income support, pension credit, housing and council tax benefits she was not entitled to. There were also saving in her accounts that she had kept quiet.
She had claimed them under her maiden name, Wightman, and had failed to tell then authorities that she was married, was living with her husband and that her name had been changed to Swain.
Admitting fraud charges, she admitted the pair had been living together since May, 1995.
She was jailed at Nottingham Crown Court for 12 months.