Benefit fraudsters caught
Published Wednesday 31st October 12 in Council - news and information releases news
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council continues to tackle benefit fraud with three more people now paying a high price for cheating the system.
At Southend Crown Court on Monday 24th September, Christopher Egbue, 50, of Ruskin Avenue, Southend, admitted nine counts of providing false statements which led to him getting £27,131.01 worth of Housing Benefit he was not entitled to.
He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for a year, and must repay all the benefits he wrongly received.
Mr Egbue was given Housing Benefit after claiming he needed to pay rent to his landlord.
However, Southend on Sea Borough Council fraud investigators acted on a tip off to discover that Mr Egbue's mother owned the flat he was living in, and did not charge him rent.
Meanwhile, at Southend Crown Court on Friday 14th September, Ms Sharon Gallant, 39, of Coleman Street, Southend, was convicted of failing to declare to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that her circumstances had changed and that her partner was living with her.
She denied the charges, but was found guilty after a three-day trial, and was sentenced to ten weeks in prison suspended for 24 months, ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work, to complete an education, training and employment programme within ten days and was also ordered to pay costs of £250 as well as having to pay back £21,211.40 worth of overpaid benefits.
Meanwhile at Southend Magistrates Court on Wednesday 10th October, Mrs Karen Noakes, 50 of Ruskin Avenue, Southend, admitted failing to report a change in circumstance over her claims to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
She was ordered to complete 80 hours community service and repay all of the £5,309.99 benefits she wrongly received.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Executive Councillor for Corporate Support Services, Councillor Andrew Moring said: "Although the Council is committed to paying benefits to those who are entitled, it also has a duty to protect the public purse and take action against people committing benefit fraud.
"It is an offence to commit benefit fraud and as these cases show, repayment of benefit is not the only action that the Council may wish to take.
"If anyone has suspicions over a person entitlement to benefit they can call the Corporate Fraud Investigation Team directly on 01702 215254, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
"All information received is treated in the strictest confidence."