Fraud claimed more than £5,000 in benefits

Northampton Crown Court
Northampton Crown Court
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A Finedon woman who fraudulently claimed more than £5,000 in benefits was caught after a surveillance operation.

Caroline Smeathers, 58, of Eastfield Crescent, was claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit when her partner moved into her house.

She didn’t declare the move and Wellingborough Council launched a joint investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when information was received that her partner, who was in full-time employment, was living with her.

During several weeks of observation the information was confirmed and Smeathers was interviewed under caution at the council’s offices.

The case was sent to Northampton Crown Court, where Smeathers pleaded guilty to two offences – one of dishonestly failing to notify the change of circumstances with her partner to obtain income support, and one of dishonestly failing to notify the change of circumstances with her partner to obtain housing and council tax benefit.

She was sentenced on Friday, August 17, to a 12-month community order, 60 hours unpaid work, a two month supervision order and a four-week electronic curfew.

Councillor Paul Bell, leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “We take benefit fraud extremely seriously, and we’re very good at uncovering it. We’ll do whatever we need to in order to catch the people responsible and that includes surveillance if necessary. I hope this prosecution serves as a warning to anyone else who thinks they can get away with cheating the system. Those who fraudulently claim benefits are putting an additional, unnecessary burden on the taxpayer. We won’t tolerate it and will do everything in our power to put a stop to it.”