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6 Nov 2017

Mother in £26k benefit fraud

A mother-of-two who banked £26,000 of tax payers’ money in a two-year benefit fraud has avoided jail.

Tanya Comber failed to alert Maidstone Borough Council when her partner moved into her home and continued to claim housing benefits and income support.

The 47-year-old took home £9,000 in income support while £17,000 was credited to her bank account during the swindle between 2014 and 2016.

Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard Comber had built up a mountain of debt during a legal wrangle over her six-year-old son.

Andrew Jones, prosecuting, said she was paid income support and housing benefits on the basis she was a lone parent and had no other income.

“The money was paid directly into a bank account,” he said. “In interview she admitted she had been living with her partner and told the investigator she knew her benefits would stop if she told them about the change in circumstances, but she had a lot of debt.”

Comber admitted two counts of dishonestly failing to notify change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit and will now begin paying back the thousands of pounds she owes.

Defending the barmaid and cleaner, Geoff Playford told magistrates she had struggled financially during a problem with her former partner: “There were a lot of things going on in Miss Comber’s life at the time. Her son was effectively retained by her former partner and the result was she had to take him to court to get a civil order to get him back. She is remorseful and she accepts responsibility.”

Chairman of the Bench Andrew Backway handed Comber a 120-day prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He said: “We accept arrangements have been made for that money to be repaid.”

He said her early guilty plea was the reason she was not going to prison. Comber was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge and court costs of £85.

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