School chef Augustina Doku Ntiamoah cooked up a plan to claim money she was not entitled to but her scheme went off the boil when the blunder was spotted on a form.
Croydon Crown Court was told Doku Ntiamoah, who claimed £30,454.99 she was not entitled to, created a false identity to defraud the council.
Doku Ntiamoah, 49, from Thornton Heath, claimed benefit as a single parent with three dependant children from 2006, saying she paid rent to a landlord.
But fraud investigators from Croydon Council, who work to ensure benefits are paid only to people who need them, discovered the landlord never existed.
A false identity of Dawn Williams was created to purchase the property in which she had been living. After being interviewed by council officers in 2009, Doku Ntiamoah withdrew her claim voluntarily but was still charged. She pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing but a jury convicted her of three counts of fraud on 16 March, 2012.
At Croydon Crown Court on Friday, 13 April, she was sentenced to nine months jail for each of the offences, to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months.
- What actual punishment did she get?
Benefit thieves do it for the money. They should know they will have to pay back twice what they stole. They should not be eligible for any benefits until they have, and they should have to do ten hours of unpaid work every week until the debt to society is cleared. A confiscation order should be made immediately.