A Lichfield woman has admitted being a benefit fraudster – after it was revealed that she had more than a quarter of a million pounds in assets.
Linda Gough, 65, of Broad Lane in the city, pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly making a false representation in her claim for council tax benefit at Tamworth Magistrates Court on October 8.
Mrs Gough had been claiming council tax benefit since July 2009, despite having assets of more than £211,000. She then received a further £74,000 in December 2009, which brought her total amount of undeclared funds to over £285,000.
As a result of Mrs Gough not declaring her savings, she claimed £3,163 in council tax benefit she was not entitled to.
Mrs Gough has now repaid all the money to Lichfield District Council. She also left court with a criminal record and was ordered to pay a fine of £400, costs of £495, and a victim surcharge of £15.
Councillor Mike Wilcox, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Revenues and Benefits, said:
“We take a hard line on benefit fraud, and always aim to prosecute fraud through the courts. If found guilty of benefit fraud, you could end up with a fine and a criminal record.
“This case highlights how essential it is that people declare their savings when they are claiming or applying for benefits. Anyone with savings or capital of more than £16,000 cannot claim benefits, which shows just how big a deception was involved in this case. If anyone has any concerns about their benefits claim, I would encourage them to call our team on 01543 308900 straightaway.”
To report benefit fraud call 0800 783 1030 or textphone 0800 328 6341 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.