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17 Feb 2017

Easy peasy single person benefit frauds

A greedy mum pocketed a massive £95,000 worth of benefits after failing to declare her boyfriend had moved in with her.

Amanda Smeaton has now been given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for one year.

A district judge sitting at MK Magistrates court heard how the 46-year-old claimed a string of benefits on the basis that she was a single mum with low earnings. She was paid tax credits, council tax benefit and housing benefit over a five year period. But all the time she was living with her partner, Glen Harwood, who was bringing in wages from a full time job, MK magistrates court heard last week.

Ms Smeaton had denied she was cohabiting, and said Mr Smeaton was a “family friend” of no fixed abode.

In a prosecution carried out by the Department of work and Pensions, she pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent activity through failing to disclose her domestic situation.

A district judge heard the case because he has a greater power of sentencing than the magistrates. He heard the fraud continued for five years until June 2015.

Like all claimants, Smeaton had a legal duty to declare her true circumstances and to notify the benefit agencies of any change of circumstances, say the DWP. On top of the 12 month suspended sentence, she was ordered to carry out community service.

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A benefit cheat who admitted claiming thousands of pounds worth of Income Support she wasn’t entitled to has been told to carry out unpaid work.

Margaret Weir appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court for sentencing after pleading guilty earlier this year to claiming £30,000 of Income Support and failing to notify Department of Work and Pensions officials of a change in her circumstances.

At a previous court hearing, fiscal depute Callum Forsyth said that Weir began making claims for Income Support in 1990 on the basis that she was a single parent. However, it was discovered that Weir’s ex-husband had been making financial contributions to the household.

As a result of intelligence received by the DWP, an investigation began into Weir. It was then revealed by the DWP that Weir’s ex-husband had been using the address for correspondence purposes. Weir, of Valley View, Motherwell, was then interviewed by DWP officials.

She later confessed that her ex-husband had been making payments to the household and that she had not notified the DWP of this. Weir’s solicitor told the court that since her admission of guilt Weir’s family had been saving cash in order to pay the money back.

At Hamilton Sheriff Court last week, 48-year-old Weir was put on a community payback order with supervision for the next 12 months. She was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

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