Couple jailed for benefit fraud

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A Finedon couple have been sentenced to four months in prison for fraudulently claiming more than £24,000 in benefits after hiding thousands of pounds of inheritance money in secret bank accounts.

Roger Smith, 69, and Shirley Smith, 66, of Church Street, continued to claim housing benefit and council tax benefit after inheriting £24,000 in 2005 and a further £30,000 in 2007.

Wellingborough Council launched an investigation after receiving information about the Smiths and found a number of undisclosed bank accounts hiding the savings.

The pair were interviewed under caution by officers at Wellingborough Council and were each charged with seven counts of fraud from 2005 to 2011.

They pleaded guilty at Wellingborough Magistrates Court last week and were sentenced to 16 weeks in prison.

On the same day, Lesley Neville, 50, of Ruskin Avenue in Wellingborough, was fined £210 by the courts for claiming nearly £3,000 of income support and council tax benefit when she had money in undeclared bank accounts.

Councillor Paul Bell, leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “We have another two successful prosecutions for benefit fraud, which shows how seriously we take it. Our track record at investigating and uncovering fraud is excellent and we work very hard to catch the people who commit it. Benefit fraud puts an extra burden on the taxpayer at a time when honest people are really feeling the pinch and it’s simply not acceptable. We will do everything we can to put a stop to it and I hope that these prosecutions, along with all our other prosecutions, will be a warning to people that think they can get away with cheating the system.”