A DROITWICH benefit cheat will have to pay back more than £8,500 which she falsely claimed.
Sarah Louise Cook, 25, of Nunnery Avenue, pleaded guilty at Worcester Magistrates Court to four charges of dishonestly claiming benefit by knowingly giving false information to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and failing to report changes in circumstances to Wychavon District Council.
A joint investigation was carried out by the council’s benefits fraud team and the DWP, which found Cook was claiming benefits for herself and her husband. She declared she was sick and unable to work and that her husband was unemployed and not working.
But information passed on via Wychavon’s Benefit Fraud Hotline claimed Cook’s husband was in fact working and further evidence uncovered during the joint investigation found Cook’s husband had been receiving wages since February 6, 2011, but she had never declared it.
Cook was interviewed by investigating officers and denied knowledge of her husband being in work, but evidence showed that was untrue.
She was found to have received housing benefit overpayments of £1,996.91, £588.11 in council tax benefit, £1,637.01 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and £4,366.41 in employment and support allowance. That totalled £8,588.44 in overpaid benefits
After pleading guilty, Cook was fined a nominal £10, with £200 costs and a £60 victim surcharge. The £270 is to be paid at £5 per week and Cook will also have to pay back her benefit fraud debts in full.
Nick Jefferies, the partnership director on behalf of the South Worcestershire Partnership, said benefit fraud was a serious matter and residents had a duty to report any change in circumstances that could affect benefit payments.
Anyone who is unsure as to whether they are entitled to receive their benefits should call Worcester City Council on 0300 456 0560 for advice.
Those wanting to report a case of benefit fraud to Wychavon District Council can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01386 565280.