Benefit cheat had Swiss bank accounts

A SUFFOLK benefit cheat swindled £27,000 from the public purse while she had thousands in two Swiss bank accounts.Cheryl Taylor claimed £12,277 income support, £12,277 housing benefit and £2,633 in council tax benefit between 2002 and 2006 when she had around £22,000 in two overseas accounts.

A SUFFOLK benefit cheat swindled £27,000 from the public purse while she had thousands in two Swiss bank accounts.

Cheryl Taylor claimed £12,277 income support, £12,277 housing benefit and £2,633 in council tax benefit between 2002 and 2006 when she had around £22,000 in two overseas accounts.

Taylor, 50, lived at Simons Cross, Wickham Market with her two teenage sons pleaded guilty to three charges of making a false statement and one charge of dishonestly failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions and Suffolk Coastal District Council that she had savings of more than £8,000.

Andrew Thompson, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown court, said Taylor signed three separate forms without declaring that she had two credit Swiss accounts which contained £21,600 in 2005.

She did declare a Lloyds TSB account.

Mr Thompson said: “She came into possession of the accounts on the death of her uncle and thought they were in some kind of trust. She said she was not aware of what was in the accounts because she never opened official looking envelopes.”

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The court heard that Taylor began claiming benefits in 2002 when she separated from her husband but the payments ceased between January 2006 and June 2006 when the fraud was discovered and Taylor was forced to live off her savings.

Mr Thompson said since Taylor's benefits became reinstated a year and a half ago she has paid back all the council tax benefits, £800 of the housing benefit and about £700 of the income support overpayments.

The court heard that at the rate Taylor was paying back the debt it would be cleared in about 40 years.

Mr Broadhurst, for Taylor, said his client was of previous good character and had not used the money to lead a lavish lifestyle.

He said: “She was supporting her sons and her benefits stopped in January 2006, then she used the two accounts to live and to pay off debts and that used up the savings relatively quickly.”

He added that Taylor suffered with depression since living in an abusive first marriage and was now receiving £302 a month income support and £136 disability living allowance.

Judge John Devaux said: “You declared some accounts and concealed others so it was deliberate dishonesty on your part. You preferred to forget you were being dishonest week in and week out.”

He said that Taylor's eight months prison sentence would be suspended for 18 months because she had pleaded guilty and had not led an extravagant lifestyle.

Taylor was also placed on probation supervision and was warned that any breach would result in custody.

The result of the court case was welcomed by Suffolk Coastal council.

“The Court clearly took Ms Taylor's offences very seriously after it heard that she had failed to declare over £20,000 worth of savings held in two Credit Suisse bank accounts,” said housing spokesman Chris Slemmings.

“She was spared a time behind bars largely because the Judge made allowances for her past history of ill-health and that she has already paid back £4,000 to this Council. However, she was given a clear warning that she would face immediate imprisonment if there are any breaches of her sentence during the next 18 months.”