A benefits cheat who swindled almost £30,000 by falsely claiming she was a single mother was caught by officers after her husband was spotted doing the school run.
Deborah Fogg, 48, claimed benefits over a five year period, claiming to be a lone parent living on her own with a young child, in Burnley, Lancashire. But she failed to declare that her husband Dave was openly living with her.
Investigators, tipped off about her fraud, kept watch outside the couple's £75,000 house and observed Mr Fogg going to and from the property every day.
He was seen walking their daughter to school, and further investigations revealed that Mr Fogg's bank used the address as his, had motor insurance registered at the house, had bought his wife a car to the address and had his works van parked outside.
At Burnley Crown Court, Mrs Fogg admitted benefit fraud charges but was spared immediate jail as a judge said she had learned her lesson and her child, who is autistic, was reliant on her.
Earlier the hearing was told the fraud took place between July 6, 2009 and February 21, 2014.
Prosecutor Andrew Evans said Fogg claimed benefits on the basis she was a single parent with a dependent child. She claimed more than £20,000 in income support plus a further £7,983 in housing and council tax benefits from Burnley Council.
The total over-claimed was £28,919.67. Investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions saw Mr Fogg coming and going from the house and walking their child to school and his van parked outisde the property. Mr Evans said: ' It wasn't a very sophisticated fraud.'
Mrs Fogg was interviewed twice under caution, in May and June last year but claimed Mr Fogg was living with a friend. Had she been honest with her benefits claims she would have been entitled to £11,467.03. The illicitly obtained money was being recovered by the civil route.
In mitigation defence counsel Philip Holden, said Mrs Fogg and her husband still lived together, but not as husband and wife, but for the sake of their child, who had ' profound problems.'
The barrister said : ' She wasn't aware of the entitlement she had in fact had until recently, when she has gone and made inquiries and she's realised she could have been claiming for very much longer legitimately.'
Mr Holden added: 'This is hovering around the custody threshold.'
Fogg was given 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years. Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt told the defendant she had lied to the DWP instead of being honest and knew it.
She continued: ' It's right to say it was hugely unsophisticated. The fact this man was living with you was blatantly obvious to anyone who walked past your house by the sound of it. People who take such large sums of money from the DWP through dishonesty must understand that sentences of imprisonment are appropriate. But there's no point in you going to prison and in my judgement, you have learned your lesson and there is a child who is, there is no question about it, reliant on you. It's a sad time to lose your good name at 48.'