Mum faces big fraud bill
A SINGLE mum has been ordered to pay back all the £2,100 she falsely claimed in housing benefits. Lucy Walne, aged 22, of High Road West, Felixstowe, pleaded guilty at South-east Suffolk Magistrates at Ipswich to obtaining the money by deception from Suffolk Coastal Council.
A SINGLE mum has been ordered to pay back all the £2,100 she falsely claimed in housing benefits.
Lucy Walne, aged 22, of High Road West, Felixstowe, pleaded guilty at South-east Suffolk Magistrates at Ipswich to obtaining the money by deception from Suffolk Coastal Council.
She had repeatedly denied to the council that she was in receipt of tax credit payments, instead saying she had only applied for them.
Ms Walne, who has one child, was given a 12-month conditional discharge, told to repay the money she wrongfully claimed, and also pay the council's £150 court costs.
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“This case again shows that this council is prepared to use the courts to help us catch the small minority of people who are cheating the rest of society by falsely claiming benefits,” said council cabinet member Chris Slemmings.
“Because this Council is working in partnership with government agencies, anyone wrongly claiming benefits is more likely than ever to be caught.
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“It really is not worth the risk and I would strongly warn people not to try and cheat the system.”
The fraud came to light as a result of the vigilance of the council's housing benefits staff who then referred the case to the authority's counter fraud investigators.
Suffolk Coastal's benefits service deals with 5,700 housing benefit cases and 7,600 council tax benefit claims, and pays out over £15 million of benefits a year.
Anyone receiving benefits should notify the council on 01394 444838 if there is any change in their circumstances - it can sometimes mean they receive more, rather than less, benefit.
People can confidentially report suspected benefit frauds on the Fraud Hotline - 01394 444444, available 24-hours a day.