Woman’s £5,000 benefit fraud

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

Caroline Smeathers, 58, of Eastfield Crescent, Finedon, 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 an investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions after it received information that her partner, who was in full-time employment, was living with her.

During several weeks of observation the information was confirmed.

Smeathers pleaded guilty to two offences at Northampton Crown Court on Friday, August 17. She admitted one charge of dishonestly failing to notify the change of circumstances with her partner to obtain income support, and another of dishonestly failing to notify the change of circumstances with her partner to obtain housing and council tax benefit.

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

Cllr Paul Bell, leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “We take benefit fraud extremely seriously.”