A WORTHING benefit cheat has been jailed for six months after fraudulently claiming almost £50,000.
Lisa Moore, of Juno Close, Goring, was living with her boyfriend between 2003 and 2009 without notifying Worthing Borough Council (WBC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of this arrangement, because she knew it would affect her benefits.
The 39-year-old was receiving housing benefit and council tax benefit from WBC, and income support from the DWP, totalling £48,053.06 over the six years, which would have been withdrawn if she had declared Andrew Eames was living with her.
Following a three-day trial at Chichester Crown Court last week, Moore was found guilty of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances, and making a false representation, for which she was sentenced to six months in prison.
The court heard Moore, who pleaded not guilty, had previously admitted the charge at an interview at Worthing council in December, 2010.
In the interview, she was asked by Karen Devereux, a DWP fraud investigator, “did he (Mr Eames) live with you full-time until he was made bankrupt?”.
Moore said: “Yes, he did.”
Moore claimed Mr Eames was only staying with her three or four nights a week, so she did not think she had to tell anyone.
Mark Cotter, prosecuting, said: “You may have a husband and wife, or civil partnership, that do spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. You may have someone that is married to an oil rig worker. But they’re still living together.”
The court was also told how Moore set up a bank account for Mr Eames’ wages to be paid into, because he could not get an account due to his financial situation.
Mr Cotter said: “The car was primarily funded by him. He had clothes at yours, a toothbrush, toiletries. Your bed was available for him to sleep in. You said when he’s with you, he’s home. He had a key to the premises and he made it clear to his employers, that’s where he lived.”
It was also heard Moore has a 12-year-old son with special educational needs, and that Social Services would have to step in after she went to jail.
In mitigation, Marie Spenywn said this case was not typical of benefit cheats.
She said: “This was not a claim that has been carried out in order to carry out an extravagant lifestyle. She’s genuinely concerned about her son.”
Judge Claudia Ackner said: “He’s a young boy that has had problems for a long time and it’s a shame you didn’t consider that when you defrauded the benefit system. The jury, quite properly in my view, rejected your defence. This was systematic cheating on your part.
“The benefit system in this country can only function correctly if the information provided by applicants is honest and accurate. You’re quite simply a benefit cheat.”
Miss Devereux said after sentencing: “Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime and if you commit benefit fraud you will be caught, and you will be punished. The result of this case is the right one and the overpayment of benefit will be fully recovered.”