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Southend Council cracks down on benefit fraudsters
BENEFIT fraudsters have been told to repay overclaimed payments after appearing in court.
Southend Council has cracked down on people falsely claiming benefits and three more people have appeared at court.
Most recently, Karen Noakes, of Ruskin Avenue, Southend, appeared at Southend Magistrates Court.
Noakes, 50, admitted failing to report a change in circumstance over her claims to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
She was ordered to complete 80 hours community service and repay all of the £5,309.99 benefits she wrongly received.
At Southend Crown Court, Christopher Egbue, 50, admitted nine counts of providing false statements which led to him getting £27,131.01 worth of Housing Benefit he was not entitled to.
Egbue, of Ruskin Avenue, Southend, was given housing benefit after claiming he needed to pay rent to his landlord.
However, Southend Council fraud investigators acted on a tip-off and discovered that Mr Egbue’s mother owned the flat he was living in, and did not charge him rent.
He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for a year at Southend Crown Court and must repay all the benefits he wrongly received.
Sharon Gallant, of Coleman Street, Southend, was convicted of failing to tell the council and the Department for Work and Pensions that her circumstances had changed as her partner was living with her.
Gallant, 39, denied the charges, but was found guilty after a three-day trial at Southend Crown Court.
She was sentenced to ten weeks in prison suspended for 24 months, ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work, to complete an education, training and employment programme within ten days and was also ordered to pay costs of £250 as well as having to pay back £21,211.40 worth of overpaid benefits.
Andrew Moring, Southend Council’s executive councillor for corporate support services, said the council would prosecute anyone falsely claiming benefits.
He said: “Although the council is committed to paying benefits to those who are entitled, it also has a duty to protect the public purse and take action against people committing benefit fraud.
“It is an offence to commit benefit fraud and as these cases show, repayment of benefit is not the only action that the council may wish to take.”
Anyone who suspects a person of benefit fraud can call the council confidentially on 01702 215254 or email email@example.com.