On Wednesday August 24 and Tuesday August 30, The Department of Work and Pensions, in conjunction with Wokingham Borough Council, successfully prosecuted Alice Cottee of Barrett Crescent, Wokingham and John Lucy of Hanwood Close, Woodley for benefit fraud.
Cottee, 27, pleaded guilty to three separate charges of failing to declare changes in her circumstances that are receiving income from self-employed earnings. As a result of a joint operation between Wokingham Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, £5,159.21 of fraudulent benefit was identified.
Lucy, 45, pleaded guilty to four separate charges of dishonestly failing to declare his employed earnings. In this case, the Department of Work and Pensions and Wokingham Borough Council identified £11,282.21 of fraudulent benefit.
As well as having to repay the fraudulent benefit overpayment, Cottee was awarded an 18 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs and Lucy was sentenced to a nine month custodial sentence suspended for two years. A six-month supervision order was also awarded against Lucy.
Muir Laurie, Director of Business Assurance and Democratic Services, said: "This authority does not tolerate benefit fraud and those who try to cheat the system will be tracked down and caught. When a benefit claimant fails to declare all their income, savings and assets they will eventually be detected.
"The borough council carries out extensive checking in order to find benefit fraud and, if suspected, we can carry out various checks to stamp out this antisocial behaviour.
"Should anyone consider committing an offence they are warned they face being caught, prosecuted and named and shamed. Our Investigations team, working closely with the council’s Shared Legal Solutions team as well as the Department of Work and Pension, has an excellent track record of bringing culprits to justice."
If anyone has any concerns relating to benefit fraud, they can report them in confidence to the Investigations hotline on 0800 454 240.