Benefits cheat will take 17 years to pay back debt

Scales of justice
Scales of justice

A mum-of-two from Corby will take 17 years to pay back more than £11,000 she illegally claimed in benefits.

Tammy Garscadden, from Barton Square, Corby, claimed she was a single mum living alone. However, she was actually living with her partner at the time of the claim.

Benefits investigators at Corby Council were alerted when they discovered partner James Wright had been applying for credit using Garscadden’s address. He then registered the birth of Garscadden’s second child using the same address.

The £11,301 was claimed over a four year period, magistrates in Corby were told at a hearing at the court in Elizabeth Street.

When interviewed by investigators, the 26-year-old admitted the crime and is now paying the money back at a rate of £13.60 that is deducted from her benefits every week. With court costs on top of this, it will take her nearly 17 years to pay the money back.

Prosecuting on behalf of Corby Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, Graham Tyrrell said: “The defendant applied for income support in May 2007, then for council and housing tax benefit in July 2007 on the basis she was a single mum.

“Then it was discovered she’d given birth to a baby in 2009 and there was an investigation launched.

“It appeared James Wright had been living with her at the time and his name was on loan agreements and applications for utility bills.

“He’d also given her address when registering the child’s birth.

“When interviewed, Garscadden said they’d had an on-off relationship but admitted he’d lived with her for the period of her claims.”

In mitigation, the court heard that Garscadden had not turned up for previous court hearings because she was terrified and that she had admitted responsibility as soon as she was interviewed.

Magistrates were also told that she aimed to get a job to clear the debt more quickly.

Garscadden was given a six week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months. She was ordered to carry out 180 hours of community service and was told to pay £600 in prosecution costs.