A WOMAN who claimed £140,000 in benefits by fraudulently saying she was wheelchair bound was caught after she was filmed water-skiing.
Janet Curtis, 64, pleaded guilty to nine offences of dishonesty spanning more than a decade when she appeared before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Suffolk Coastal District Council said.
After she was sentenced, the council released video footage showing her water-skiing in Florida. Investigators also established she had enjoyed a cruise on the QEII.
Doreen Savage, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “This was one of the most prolonged and serious cases of fraud which our investigators have ever had to deal with.
“Curtis’s web of deceit stretched back to the 1990s and only stopped when she was caught.
“She enjoyed lavish holidays abroad, while fraudulently claiming over £140,000 which should have been used to support people with genuine needs.”
Curtis, of Douglas Road, Clacton, Essex, was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a six-month curfew order.
The court heard she fraudulently claimed benefits from the district council and the Department for Work and Pensions, saying that rheumatoid arthritis meant that she could not walk more than three metres without extreme discomfort.
She also claimed she was unable to function independently and needed 24-hour care, claiming additional benefit as she said she had a live-in carer and therefore needed an additional bedroom.
Curtis continued to falsely claim housing and council tax benefits for her former home in Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, for more than a decade after she had moved out to live with her partner in Clacton, the council said.