30 Nov 2018

Benefit fraud investigator fiddled tax credits

A Stourbridge woman who worked as a benefit fraud investigator has been warned she could be facing time behind bars after she fiddled nearly £19,000 from the system.

Tracey Griffiths - a mother of three - had been described by her Inland Revenue co-workers and friends as highly reliable and motivated.

But over a two year period the 36-year-old illegally pocketed a total of £18,863 by maintaining she and her husband Stewart were no longer a couple.

Judge Peter Cooke told Griffiths it was serious offending as he remanded her on bail until Monday December 17 for the preparation of a pre-sentence report. He said he could give Griffiths no indication as to what sentence would be imposed but he warned her the crime had "exposed her to the risk of immediate custody."

Griffiths had pleaded not guilty to fraudulently claiming tax credits but she was convicted by a jury on an 11-1 majority verdict.

The six man six woman panel had retired to consider the evidence for just over four hours at the end of her trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Paul Mytton, prosecuting, said Griffiths had been well regarded in the investigation of benefit fraud and it was unlikely she would have been suspected of making a false claim.

"It was an ideal cover," he told the jury as he described Griffiths as an intelligent woman who knew the system well.

He said Griffiths had not been entitled to the money she fiddled. "She was not entitled to it because she was not single."

Griffiths had alleged she had separated from her husband and she made an application for tax credit while the couple were living together in Kingswinford.

But the prosecution said they enjoyed family holidays and the pair put a post on social media celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

Luke Ponte, defending, said Griffiths' domestic life had been "messy and complicated" but he stressed she had not acted fraudulently. A woman of previous good character, she had been entitled to make the claim and she had opened herself up to full scrutiny.

Griffiths is now expected to be sentenced at Warwick Crown Court where the judge normally dispenses justice.


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