A WOMAN was ordered to pay back almost £70,000 in falsely claimed benefits at Basildon Crown Court last month.

Suzanne Rollisson, 47, of Hornby Avenue, Westcliff, claimed to be single, accruing £69,619.13 in income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit and tax credit fraud.

Miss Rollisson, also received a 22-week suspended prison sentence and was ordered to spend 25 days in education and training.

A joint investigation between the Department for Work and Pensions and Southend Council found that Miss Rollisson had in fact been living with her partner for six years, while fraudulently claiming to be single.

Southend councillor for corporate services, Andrew Moring, said: “Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime; it affects all council tax payers and those in receipt of council services.

“We take any attempt to abuse the benefits system very seriously and those who do will find the penalties can be much worse than simply repaying illegally-obtained benefits, as this case shows.”

Between December 2007 and March 2013 Miss Rollisson obtained more than £20,000 in housing benefit, around £3,400 in council tax benefit, £34,000 in tax credits and almost £10,500 in income support.

Anyone with suspicions about benefit cheats should call the Counter Fraud Team on 01702 215254.