£16,000 benefit cheat caught lying about partner

A MUM has been found guilty of £16,000 benefit fraud after being caught lying about where her partner lived.

Lindsey Jones, (34), of Blythe Street, Wombwell, admitted failing to inform the authorities about her true circumstances and was given a six-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

She will also have to pay back in full the £16,000 of falsely claimed benefits.

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The conviction at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court followed a joint investigation by Barnsley Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

A council spokeswoman said: “The court was of the opinion that the offences crossed the custody threshold on the grounds that it was serious fraud on the public purse.”

Jones failed to declare that her partner, who was working, was living at her address while she continued to claim benefits including Income Support,

Employment Support Allowance, Housing and Council Tax Benefit.

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She was initially interviewed in May last year, where she admitted that her partner had moved in with her following the birth of their daughter in March. She denied that he had lived there prior to this date.

Following a lengthy investigation, officers obtained evidence of her partner’s employment and enquired into their financial background.

It was put to her that her partner had been living with her for some considerable time before March 2012. Jones continued to deny this and provided an alternative address for her partner which enquiries found to be false.

It was determined that Jones had failed to declare her partner living with her from November 2010 and as such had received in excess of £16,000 of benefit payments to which she was not entitled.

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By failing to declare her true financial circumstances, Jones obtained £7,059 in Housing Benefit, £1,063 in Council Tax Benefit, £5,718 in Income Support and £3,146 in Employment Support Allowance.

She pleaded guilty to all charges of furnishing a false claim form and failing to inform changes in her circumstances.

Jones was also given a community order with a requirement to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £200.

If you have information about suspected benefit fraud contact the benefit investigation team on 01226 774890 or the benefit fraud hotline on 0800 1382940 in confidence.