Benefit fraudsters falsely claimed in excess of £80,000

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FIVE people found themselves facing heavy fines and a prison term after making more than £80,000 in false benefits claims between them.

Albert Nash, 56, of White Rock, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, after admitting three counts of making false claims.

Nash had claimed almost £40,000 in Income Support, housing benefit and council tax benefit but had not disclosed that he also owned a flat in the area.

He was sentenced at Hove Crown Court last Thursday (May 3) and told he will have to repay all of the overpaid benefits.

Arthur and Christine Dale, aged 55 and 50, of Carisbrooke Road, St Leonards, appeared before Hastings magistrates on the same day.

They admitted claiming a total of £24,776.21 in Income Support and housing benefit they were not entitled to.

The court heard that they had received a substantial inheritance but had not only failed to tell Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and the Department for Work and Pensions, the pair had also denied having any savings when completing a new claim form in 2010.

Magistrates took into account the fact the couple had repaid the overpaid benefit and reduced their fine. They were each fined £300, plus a £15 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £100 in costs.

Julie Murphy, 42, of Valley Side Road, was found guilty last Thursday of not declaring an increase in her part-time work and wages while she claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit. She falsely claimed £4,561.05 altogether. Murphy was fined £187, ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £100 costs.

Melissa Bell, 23, of Stockleigh Road, St Leonards will have to do 80 hours of unpaid community work after she admitted falsely claiming £11,677.49 in total in Income Support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Hastings magistrates heard she had made her claims on the basis of being a single parent but failed to tell the authorities when her partner moved in.

Bell was also ordered to pay £50 court costs.

A council spokesman said: “These five people each made false claims in very different circumstances but each were caught and now have criminal records. We can’t emphasise enough the importance of letting us or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) know of changes in your circumstances. If you’re not sure it’s relevant, it’s always much better to check rather than end up in court.

“Several of these cases were brought together with our colleagues at the DWP. We do work together to stop false claims from slipping through the net, so if you need to talk to us – do it today.”