A wealthy couple claimed more than £43,000 in benefits while having a small fortune in the bank, a court heard. (h/t Dave)
Fraudsters Edwin and Lynda Brain profited from housing benefits and pension credits during a time when £256,000 was paid into family bank accounts. But the pensioners kept their healthy bank balance secret as they cheated the taxpayer for seven years.
Brain, 68, and his 71-year-old wife, from Pencoed near Bridgend, South Wales, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud. He was jailed for 12 months and his wife given an eight-month suspended sentence.
Prosecutor Patrick Llewelyn said that the funds of more than £250,000 had gone into their bank accounts from Edwin Brain's job as a taxi and bus driver and from other 'unknown sources'.
Mrs Brain admitted failing to disclose £67,000 that came from the sale of the family home while her husband failed to disclose her savings when he made an application for housing and council tax benefit.
Mr Llewelyn said Mrs Brain had applied for pension credit for them both in 2004 saying they had no savings and her husband's income was £85-a-week.
In 2007 she received £67,337 from the sale of a house and a year later Mr Brain applied for housing benefit saying his wife was on pension credits and he earned £100 each week from his job as a taxi driver.
Mr Llewellyn said: 'It was established that Mrs Brain had applied for pension credit for them as a couple and that was the passport to other benefits. If the bank accounts had been disclosed then further checks would have been carried out and there would have been yearly reviews.'
Prosecutors said the pair failed to disclose Mr Brain's earnings from Radio Cabs for whom he was a driver. They also failed to disclose income from Peyton Travel - a company owned by their son - and other 'unknown sources'. Mr Brain was earning £100 a week from Peyton Travel, which the judge described as 'an understatement'.
Christopher Rees, mitigating for Mrs Brain, said: 'She is a 71-year-old woman who is of entirely clean character. She is genuinely remorseful that, at her age, she has come to this.'
The housing benefit fraud cost Bridgend Council £3,600 while the fraudulent pension credits from the Department of Work and Pensions amounted to more than £39,000.
Judge Michael Fitton QC told the couple: 'There was a lengthy failure to make a true declaration of your financial position and this fraudulent activity was substantial.'
Sentencing, he added Mr Brain had shown 'little remorse' for his actions after stating: 'There are thousands of other people doing it.'
The judge said: 'These offences are so serious that they are only appropriately dealt with by means of a prison sentence and I am not persuaded it would be appropriate to suspend it.'
His barrister said his Mr Brain 'acknowledged his guilt' and had already repaid £4,000, indicating his 'good intentions'.
The court heard that Mr Brain had debts of £60,000.
Source with pictures of the pair and their house