12 month community order for benefit fraudster

A REDDITCH woman has been handed a 12 month community order with 200 hours of community service by town magistrates, after pleading guilty to benefit fraud charges.

Debbie Humphries, age 46, of Exhall Close, Redditch, was sentenced by Redditch Magistrates Court on December 2 after pleading guilty to claiming income support, carer’s allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit amounting to £21,813.46 between December 2009 and June 2012 by failing to declare that her partner was living with her, and that she was working as a carer at a Nursing Home.

The court heard that Redditch Council started to investigate this case after an anonymous tip-off was received. The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) was invited to join the investigation in order for the full extent of offending to be uncovered.

Before sentencing Ms Humphries to a 12 month community order, with 200 hours of unpaid work, magistrates said that they had taken into account her early guilty plea. She was also ordered to pay £150 towards the prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge. The court heard that the overpaid benefits are being recovered by the council and DWP through their own methods.

A spokesman for the council said: “This case again demonstrates the importance of declaring true circumstances when claiming benefit and reporting any changes as they take place. Failure to do so will result in having to repay any benefit claimed incorrectly, may also lead to a criminal record and could have an impact on future claims.”

Anybody wishing to report a suspicion of benefit fraud can do so by emailing as much detail as possible to benefitsfraud@redditchbc.gov.uk or by ringing the investigation team during office hours on 01527 534011.

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