A woman who claimed £14,000 in benefits despite holding assets of more than £130,000 and owning three properties has been spared jail. (h/t Dave)
Between October 2010 and April 2013, Rena Griffiths claimed employment support allowance, jobseekers' allowance and council tax benefit because she was unfit to work.
When claiming the benefits, the 58 year old, from Whitefield, signed forms to say that she had no income, savings of less than £16,000 and that the only property that she owned was the one she lived in.
However, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) discovered that that might not be the case and launched and investigation. The probe found that, at the time she was claiming three benefits, Griffiths held capital in excess of £130,000 and that she owned three other properties — two in the UK and one in Spain. However, she failed to declare these on her forms.
In all, she fraudulently claimed £12,243 from the DWP and £1,757 from Bury Council over the course of three-and-a-half years.
Griffiths admitted five counts of benefit fraud to Bury magistrates on May 3 and was given a 12-week prison sentence suspended for a year.
Magistrates said the offences were serious because the figure of overpayment had been high and she had committed it over a long period of time. She must also pay £85 court costs.
After the hearing, a DWP spokesman said: "Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this show how we are rooting out the unscrupulous minority who are cheating the system and diverting taxpayers’ money from those who really need it.
"We are determined to find those we suspect of abusing the welfare system by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils.
"Failure to report a change in circumstances that may affect your benefit claim, is a crime.
With those assets, she should have to repay twice what she stole. Money motivated her, so hit her in the pocket.