By Rob George Friday 18 January 2013 Updated: 18/01 11:18
A DROITWICH woman has been ordered to pay back more than £22,000 after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.
Melissa Ross, from Farriers Corner claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit as a single person from August 2008.
But following a joint investigation from Wychavon District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions it was found Miss Ross had failed to declare she was living together with her partner at the same address.
They also discovered her partner was working while she was claiming benefits.
When interviewed about the matter in May 2011, she admitted that he was a regular visitor and said he would stay over three nights a week and at weekends.
The investigation found Miss Ross had been overpaid £8,989.94 in Income Support and a total of £13,600.58 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
During a hearing at Worcester Magistrates Court on January 10, Ross admitted six charged of benefit fraud and was told she would have to repay all the benefits she was not entitled to.
In mitigation, her solicitor Sam Lansdale said Ross was often in an on/off relationship with her partner and she thought that he could stay up to three nights per week.
She said that it was a case of her client ‘burying her head in the sand’ and she now realised that she should have reported it to the relevant agencies anyway.
Magistrates sentenced Ross to four and half months in prison, suspended for two years.
Ross was also given a two-year Community Service Order to perform 240 hours of unpaid work in the community while costs of £100 were awarded to prosecutors.
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