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Saturday, 29 November 2014

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Cumbrian council warning to benefits cheats

Benefit cheats are being warned they will be caught and prosecuted as Allerdale council cracks down on those who fiddle the system.

The authority says the fraudsters “will not get away with it” and will be brought to justice.

The warning comes as the council revealed it successfully prosecuted three women who illegally claimed nearly £18,000 in housing and council tax benefits between them.

Teresa Humes, of Moorclose Road in Salterbeck; Susan Harris of Blindcrake, near Cockermouth and Elaine Thompson of Harriston, Aspatria, were all caught out by council officers and taken to court recently. Humes, 51, claimed nearly £6,155 which she was not entitled; Harris, 58, claimed £6,796 and Thompson, 40, £4,860.

The council’s executive member for customer and regulatory services, Konrad Hansen, said the authority does not tolerate any kind of benefit and council tax fraud. “We won’t let people get away with cheating the system that is there to help and support those who really need it,” he warned.

Humes and Harris were caught out during a review by the authority’s Benefit Investigation Unit, which looked into cases where no changes in earnings had been received over a 13-month period.

All three women admitted the offences against them and were ordered to carry out unpaid work – Humes and Harris 80 hours each and Thompson 40 hours.

All three must pay a £60 victim surcharge; Humes and Harris £100 costs each and Harriston £85 costs.

Anyone who suspects benefit fraud is being committee should call Allerdale’s 24-hour benefit fraud hotline in confidence on 0800 169 5119, or by an anonymous online form at www.allerdale.gov.uk/benefitfraud

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