FENLANDER: They claimed they were single and living alone - but council proves they received benefits fraudulently

TWO women who received thousands of pounds in benefits claiming that they were single parents living alone have been successfully prosecuted for fraud.

Fenland District Council took the cases to court following lengthy investigations that revealed that both women had partners living with them at the time they made the claims.

Judith Carmichael, of Boyces Road, Wisbech, pleaded guilty last Thursday at Cambridge Crown Court to six offences of dishonestly claiming a total of �35,575 in Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Income Support over four years between May 2007 and August 2010.

Her case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report, and she will return to court for sentencing next month.

Gemma Price, formerly of Oldfield Gardens, Whittlesey, also pleaded guilty to four offences of falsely claiming �10,795 in Council Tax benefit and Housing benefit over 18 months between March 2008 and September 2009.

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Ms Price, who now lives in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was sentenced at Oxford Magistrates’ Court to a 12-month community order consisting of 200 hours unpaid work.

Both women will be required to pay all the money back to the council.

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Their claims to be living alone were shown to be false by detailed investigations carried out by FDC and the Department of Work and Pensions. Those proved that each woman was living with a partner while claiming the benefits.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for benefits, said: “Failure to declare a live-in partner is one of the most common ways whereby people claim benefits to which they are not entitled.

“These two cases show once again that we are prepared to take all the steps necessary to track cheats down, however long and complex a process that may be.”

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