Suspended sentence for Wellingborough benefit cheat

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A Wellingborough woman has been sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for a year, for fraudulently claiming more than £20,000 of benefits.

Cassie Coles, 29, of Nightingale Lane, Wellingborough, was claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit when her partner moved into the family home in 2010.

She didn’t declare that her partner, who had a full-time job, was living with her and continued to claim the benefits.

Wellingborough Council launched a joint investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions at the end of 2012 after information was received that Coles’ partner had been living in the family home for more than two years.

The information was confirmed during the investigation and she was interviewed under caution at the council offices.

She was later charged to appear at Wellingborough Magistrates Court.

Coles appeared in court on November 18 and pleaded guilty to two offences – one of failing to promptly notify the change of circumstances with her partner to obtain income support and one of failing to promptly notify the change of circumstances with her partner to obtain housing benefit and council tax benefit.

She was sentenced to 12 weeks custody for each offence to run concurrently, suspended for one year.

She was also ordered to pay £100 costs.

Wellingborough Council leader Cllr Paul Bell said: “It is very important that we are notified immediately of changes in circumstances, such as a partner moving in, as it can affect benefit entitlements.

“Benefit fraud costs the taxpayer a lot of money, and it’s simply not acceptable that some people think they can get away with cheating the system, especially at a time when honest people are struggling to make ends meet.

“We have an excellent track record of uncovering benefit fraud and we will continue to prosecute those who commit it.”

Coles had fraudulently claimed £7,486.68 income support, £11,530.05 housing benefit and £1,350.29 council tax benefit, making a total overpayment of £20,367.02.

Wellingborough Council will pursue full recovery of the overpayment.