6 Jan 2016

Benefit thief jailed

A scammer who hid her partner's £53,000 a year salary so she could carry on receiving benefits has been jailed for a year.

Anita Brown fraudulently claimed £27,000 of benefits for more than four years and used the money to shop online and for a hotel trip, a court heard.

She claimed she was living alone with her adult son at her home in Dundee. But investigators discovered that her partner - an offshore oil worker - was also living with them.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard that Ian Baillie's wage was paid into their joint bank account and funded their household expenses. Meanwhile, 56-year-old Brown maintained her own separate bank account where she had employment support allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit paid in.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard that later analysis found the fraudulent cash had been used to fund online shopping, tickets for the postcode lottery and a hotel trip.

Brown told investigators that Mr Baillie was only a "very good friend" - but he claimed he "hoped to marry her one day".

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told the court: "Mr Baillie claimed during interview he stayed with the accused two or three nights a week. He claimed he lived with his grandmother in Arbroath the remainder of the time when he was onshore, until her death in 2012. If this were true Mr Baillie's grandmother would also be guilty of council tax benefit fraud as she received a single occupier's discount. The Crown is aware that the accused's position is that Mr Baillie was not her partner. The plea is accepted on the basis that they were financially maintaining a common household and were living together."

Brown pleaded guilty on indictment to two offences under the Social Security Administration Act, committed between 2009 and 2013.

Defence solicitor Larry Flynn said Ms Brown would not be able to make repayments as she had no income.

And no assets?

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro said: "I can't imagine how she could possibly have thought she didn't have to declare this. It was quite a deliberate, successful, attempt to obtain money which rightfully belongs to the taxpayers."

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