A woman from Northampton who lied about her single status to fraudulently claim more than £25,000 in benefits has been handed an eight-month suspended sentence.
Ashleigh Brickwood claimed tax credits, income support and housing and council tax benefit, but was eventually found out following a joint investigation by Northampton Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The 24-year-old repeatedly failed to report that she was living with her partner, claiming she was a lone parent from February 2010 to January 2012.
The defendant, who lives in Raeburn Road, Kingsley, pleaded guilty to offences under the Tax Credits Act 2002 and Social Security Administration Act 1992 of fraudulently claiming £15,000 to which she was not entitled.
The court heard she claimed £14,99.94 in income support, £5,140.98 in housing benefit, £1,160.68 in council tax benefit and tax credits of £14,997.94, making a total overpayment of £25,766.33
She was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, Adrian Farley, assistant director of investigation for HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs), said: “Brickwood lied on a number of occasions to increase the amount of benefits she was entitled to, pocketing money needed to fund public services.
“This case sends out a clear and firm message that we have stringent controls in place and effective teams to investigate, and ensure this illegal activity is ended.
“We recognise it is only a minority that are exploiting the system but would encourage anyone with information relating to tax credit fraud to call the Benefits Anti-Fraud Helpline on 0800 854 440 in total confidence.”