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23 Sep 2016

Woman rightly jailed for £80k benefit fraud

A Truro woman has been jailed for benefits fraud after claiming that she was single while living with her husband.

Helen Salunga, 47, pleaded guilty to four counts of defrauding the Department for Work and Pensions, Cornwall Council and HM Revenue and Customs.

In total she fraudulently claimed £80,506.48, Truro Crown Court heard.

The first charge related to tax credits claimed from 2009 to 2014 when she told the authorities she was a single person but in fact lived with her husband who earned £17,000 to £23,000 per year.

She also said she was single on her claim for housing benefits between 2010 to 2014, falsified pay slips to help her claims and falsely claimed she was unemployed for Jobseekers' Allowance in March 2013.

Chris Spencer, for the defence, said the money was sent abroad for her family's medical expenses and that Salunga moved to the UK from the Philippines in 2004. The court heard her father, mother and brother had suffered serious illnesses and medical care in the Philippines requiring substantial sums.

Judge Simon Carr said: "You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to a very significant benefit fraud. I accept completely that you were sending all or some of the money to family in the Philippines. While having sympathy for that situation when a limited public financial purse is used in a way it is not intended it could prevent others receiving benefits they should."

Judge Carr gave Salunga nine-month prison sentences for all four charges, to run concurrently.

Source

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