Selsey woman pleads guilty to benefit fraud
A Selsey woman has pleaded guilty to claiming more than £80,000 of benefits she wasn't entitled to.
Mandy Harper (42) of Pennycord Close, Selsey, pleaded guilty at Chichester Crown Court to two counts of dishonestly failing to notify both Chichester District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that her husband was residing with her and that his earnings were contributing to the household bills.
Ms Harper, also known as Mandy Delaney, had claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit on the basis that she was a lone parent. A joint investigation by both departments uncovered the fraud, which resulted in a total overpayment £82,015.75 from January 2005 to October 2010.
Due to Ms Harper recently suffering a fractured shoulder, the Judge decided that sentencing will be deferred to 22 October 2012 when Ms Harper will be considered for an unpaid work order. In the meantime, Ms Harper will be curfewed between the hours of 7pm and 7am.
Councillor Josef Ransley, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Communications at Chichester District Council, says: "We want to encourage everyone to let us know if there is any change in their circumstances so our officers can check to see if it may affect their benefit entitlement. People often remember to do so if their circumstances change for the worse but if they improve they need to tell us as well.
"The benefits system is there to help those most in need, not those who want to abuse it by claiming money they are not entitled to. Benefit fraud is a very serious crime and we will continue to prosecute those people guilty of it."
Both Chichester District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions will seek to recover all monies overpaid.
If you suspect anyone of committing benefit fraud you can contact the council's investigation team on a confidential 24 hour fraud hotline number or you can report it online.
Date: 08 June 2012