Leeds mum of six claimed young son had cystic fibrosis in £176,000 benefits scam

A MUM of six illegally claimed more than £170,000 in benefits by making false claims about the health of her children.

Benefits cheat: How Leeds mum of six Rebecca Walker scammed £176,000 in benefits
Rebecca Walker told authorities that her youngest child was suffered from cystic fibrosis, had fits, severe behavioural problems, was unable to walk unaided and suffered from chronic asthma.

Rebecca Walker, of Kippax, has been jailed for 21 months for illegally claiming 176,000 in benefits.

Rebecca Walker, of Kippax, has been jailed for 21 months for illegally claiming 176,000 in benefits.

When assessed by specialists the youngster was described as not being different from any other children and was a "pleasant, hard working boy."

Walker also claimed she was a single parent throughout the eight-year deception despite living with a partner.

Walker, 37, of Lime Tree Crescent, Kippax, was jailed for 21 months after pleading guilty to 11 offences of fraud.

A court heard Walker was subject to a suspended sentence for illegally claiming more than £22,000 in tax credits when she carried out the offending.

Leeds Crown Court heard Walker claimed more than £145,000 in tax credits between 2008 and 2016.

She also made illegal claims for carers allowance, disability living allowance, council tax benefit, housing benefit, income support and unemployment support.

A judge who jailed Walker said she had used the money to pay for luxuries rather than basic living.

Ben Thomas, prosecuting, said each child was awarded disability living allowance and claims were "grossly exaggerated."

The prosecutor said Walker made claims in 2011 that her three-year-old son had cystic fibrosis, suffered from fits and had black-outs.

She later told authorities that the youngster was unable to use the toilet alone and would scream and bite her when she tried to look after him.

Walker also claimed the boy had severe behavioural problems and could not interact with other children.

When the boy started school he was described by specialists as "an active little boy."

Walker was asked to attend an interview when the offending came to light but told the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that she had to take her son to hospital as he needed to go into intensive care.

She attended later interviews but refused to comment.

The court heard Walker had repaid £1,313 of the illegally claimed sum but had no more available assets. There is little prospect of the full amount being returned to the taxpayer.

Benefits cheat: How Leeds mum of six Rebecca Walker scammed £176,000 in benefits
Kenton Sargeant, mitigating, said the offending was not sophisticated.

He said: "Most of it was done by ringing up and giving the information. There was nothing to suggest she provided forged documents."

Mr Sargeant said Walker had a troubled childhood and wanted to give her children what she never had.

He said: "I accept that the way she has done that is wholly unlawful and she accepts it is something for which she will have to go to custody today."

He added that Walker suffered from a spinal condition and would struggle in custody.

A spokesman for the DWP said: "Most people claiming benefits are honest, but there are the unscrupulous minority who cheat taxpayers’ money out of our welfare system and divert it away from those who really need it.

"People pretending to live alone to get benefits is one of the most common types of benefit fraud, and this case shows our investigators are bringing criminals to justice.

"Failure to report a change in circumstances that may affect your benefit claim, such as a partner moving in, is a crime.

"Small amounts of weekly overpayments build up and you could end up having to pay back tens of thousands of pounds.

"People must tell us if their situation changes before it’s too late. If you suspect someone of fraudulently claiming benefits, then call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440."

Benefits cheat: How Leeds mum of six Rebecca Walker scammed £176,000 in benefits