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23 Dec 2015

Tip-off leads to jail for £50k housing benefit fraud

A woman who claimed more than £50,000 in housing benefit and council tax benefit, despite owning a $357,000 house in America, has been jailed for two years.

Patricia Boaden, 49, from Ruckinge in Ashford, was found guilty in November of claiming the benefits to which she was not entitled.

Boaden bought the property in America in July 2008, with money inherited from her aunt’s will. The house was sold in 2010 to a company owned and operated by the Boadens, “Sunshine and Blue Skies Escape Ltd”.

Boaden claimed she had not considered the receipt of 85% of her aunt’s estate or the proceeds she received from the sale of a business as matters that should have been declared for the purposes of the benefit.

Her original application did not make any mention of the property in America, meaning the claim was fraudulent from the outset. In total, Boaden claimed £50,169, and was sentenced to two years in prison at Canterbury Crown Court on December 18.

Neil Shorter, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “While we will help those who absolutely need our support, we crack down on those who are claiming fraudulently. The purpose of publicising this case is to illustrate how seriously we take benefit fraud and people who seek to take from the public purse what they are not entitled to, and to hope this serves as a deterrent to others. Make no mistake, we will investigate and we will prosecute.

“This case not only shows that it is essential to declare everything on your application but how vital referrals from the public are to protecting public money. Thirty per cent of referrals to our fraud team come from members of the public. Some of these are anonymous tip-offs. We welcome their action, as in this case it has led to a serious fraud being detected, and a strong sentence passed.”

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