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New Year warning for benefit cheats 6.1.10

As three more benefit cheats are caught and charged, Sutton Council issues a fresh warning against fraudulent claims.

New year warning for benefit cheats

Hayley Smith, (26), Ampakwele Bongo, (35), and Maria Buss (44) have all been charged for falsely claiming benefits amounting to a grand total of almost £40,000.

Miss Hayley Smith of Garendon Road, Carshalton, appeared at Kingston Crown Court this week (4 January) after pleading guilty of failing to declare a change in her circumstances in order to obtain income support and housing and council tax benefit.

Miss Smith claimed that she was a single mother with no income or capital and did not declare that she received an inheritance of over £116,000 in 2007, resulting in benefit overpayments of £7,800.

Miss Bongo of Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, appeared at Croydon Crown Court on 11 December. Having applied for benefits on the basis that she was a single mother with no partner or income, and failing to declare that she had a live-in partner with a full time job, she received fraudulent overpayments of housing and council tax benefit of almost £25,000.

Ms Buss, of Wigmore Road, Carshalton also claimed for benefits under the premise that she was a single mother with no income even though she had returned to work. After cheating the council out of over £3000 she appeared at Sutton Magistrates Court on the 9 December.  

All three women pleaded guilty to their charges and although they had already made arrangements to repay the benefits, they were sentenced community to punishment orders for each offence accumulating in 360 hours between them.

Cllr John Drage, Executive Member for Resources on Sutton Council, said: "We will not tolerate benefit fraud as it takes away valuable resources from those who really need it and anyone attempting to cheat the system will be caught and prosecuted.

"Since April 2009 we have prosecuted 23 benefit fraudsters, issued sanctions against a further 92 people and identified over £350,000 in overpayments."

If you think someone is claiming housing and council tax benefit they are not entitled to, please call the investigation team, in confidence, on 020 8770 5687.

Alternatively call the national benefit fraud hotline on 0800 328 6340 or textphone on 0800 328 6341.

Last updated: Monday, 12 April 2010

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