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Benefit cheat to pay back £13k
1:20pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in News
A FRAUDSTER who admitted fleecing more than £13,000 in benefits has avoided a jail term.
Toni Craft, 35, failed to tell Basildon Council for three years that she was living with her partner, affecting her entitlement to housing and council tax benefit.
Basildon Crown Court heard that between January 2008 and December 2011, Craft, of Parkside, Basildon, claimed £13,740 in benefit she was not entitled to, made up of £11,432 in housing benefit and £2,308 in council tax benefit.
Craft admitted two counts of making a false statement or representation to obtain benefit. She was ordered to carryout 120 hours of unpaid work and told to pay back the cash.
Stuart Sullivan, Basildon councillor responsible for resources, said: “Although I am disappointed costs were not awarded in this case, Miss Craft will have to pay back every penny.
“Yet again, a dishonest member of the community has taken the taxpayer for a ride, falsely claiming more than £13,000 over nearly three years.
“As is always the case where a partner is not declared on a form, it is the applicant that pays the consequences.
“Benefit fraud is against the law and we will continue to tackle it and take people to court where necessary.”
In a separate case heard at Basildon Magistrates’ Court, Nicholas O’Neill, 57, of St Catherine’s Close, Wickford, pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify the authorities of a change in circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefit.
The court heard O’Neill, failed to say he was not residing in the property where benefits were being paid.
Over a period of eight months, he fleeced the council out of nearly £3,000 in council tax and housing benefit.
He was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and told to pay costs of £1,338.
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