Three benefit fraudsters convicted after council officials crack down

BENEFIT fraud investigators at a Yorkshire council yesterday said three people had been prosecuted for cheating the system after they joined with Government officials in a clampdown.

Barnsley Council brought prosecutions at the town’s magistrates court and one woman, Lindsey Jones, 34, of Blythe Street, Wombwell, was sentenced to six weeks in prison suspended for 12 months.

The authority said Jones, who was unemployed, had failed to declare that her partner, who was working, had moved into her address and she continued to claim benefits to which she was not entitled.

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Officials said she claimed £7,059 in housing benefit, £1,063 in council tax benefit, £5,718 in income support and £3,146 in employment support allowance, between November 2010 and May 2012.

Jones pleaded guilty to obtaining more than £16,000 when she appeared before the courts and was told that her offending had “crossed the custody threshold” because of the large amount of cash she had claimed.

She was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work in the community and pay costs of £200.

Magistrates also dealt with Kelvin Philipson, of Honeywell Lane, Barnsley, who was caught out after officials discovered he was working for an employment agency while claiming benefit.

The court heard that investigation officers from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Barnsley Council made the discovery after carrying out routine checks.

In interview, Philipson said he believed he could work certain hours without his benefit being affected, but he eventually pleaded guilty to benefit fraud of more than £10,000.

He was given a community order and told to complete 200 hours unpaid work and had to pay £420 in costs

The third case to be heard in the court involved 53-year-old Stephen Falkingham, of The Willows, Oxspring, who had previously been investigated by benefit fraud officers from the council.

Magistrates were told that Falkingham had failed to declare additional income from an annuity while claiming both housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Falkingham admitted the offences and said he had no explanation for why he had not declared the income.

He was given a conditional discharge because of ill health.