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No getting off scott-free for fraudster

Published Friday, 12 December 2014

A woman, who was prosecuted for benefit fraud after Enfield Council received complaints about alleged anti-social behaviour, and investigated her background, has been sentenced.

She received a two year suspended prison sentence, and was ordered to undertake 200 hours unpaid community work and pay £750 in costs after pleading guilty to three charges of dishonestly failing to disclose to Enfield Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she was living with her partner as husband and wife.

Ms Christine Scott, 41, from Walton Street, Enfield appeared at Wood Green Crown Court on 27 November after receiving £50,426.93 in Housing Benefit, £4,228.15 in Council Tax Benefit and £847.26 in Council tax Support between 1st April 2009 and 31st March 2014.

In addition she fraudulently claimed £13,833.85 in Income Support from the DWP between 6th January 2009 and 3rd January 2013.

Ms Scott initially claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit from Enfield Council in July 2008 declaring that she was living on her own and also in receipt of Income Support. In support of her claim Ms Scott provided a tenancy agreement which named her and a Mark Scott as joint tenants at the Walton Street property where she was asking Enfield Council for assistance to help to pay her rent.

Enfield Council queried the tenancy agreement, and in August 2008 Ms Scott came into the council offices and declared in a statement that Mark Scott was her ex-partner who no longer lived with her at the Walton Street property.

Suspicion began after investigators were contacted by officers from the Community Safety Unit’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team who had received complaints of anti-social behaviour about Ms Scott and a male residing at her property.

Checks revealed that Ms Scott had a joint bank account with Mark Scott and that all of his financial affairs with various organisations were registered at the Walton Street address. Mark Scott had also been employed and had given the Walton Street address as his place of residence

In June 2013 officers from Enfield’s Counter Fraud Team and the DWP interviewed Ms Scott under caution. Ms Scott admitted that both she and Mark Scott were named on the tenancy agreement for Walton Street in order to improve her credit rating. Ms Scott informed that she had changed her name to Scott although she was not married in order to have the same name as her daughter which they had had together. She admitted that he did stay at the address two to three times a week and that people might see them interacting as a family but this was not the case.

Cllr Andrew Stafford, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance said “Ms Scott was brought to book for blatantly lying that she did not live with her partner and claimed as a single parent. Clearly investigations revealed that they was living together and therefore should not have received these benefits at all.

“Again the message that lying or withholding information to the council and DWP will not work, you will be found out, and punished.”

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