Ben­e­fits cheat who claimed £21k spared jail

Macclesfield Express - - GROSVENOR CENTRE ROW - STU­ART GREER

ABEN­E­FIT cheat who fraud­u­lently claimed £21,000 fraud has avoided jail.

For seven years Re­becca He­hir, 34, failed to tell Cheshire East Coun­cil and the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions that her part­ner was liv­ing with her when she claimed for a re­duc­tion in coun­cil tax and hous­ing ben­e­fit.

The fraud lasted be­tween May 18, 2007, and Fe­bru­ary 2, 2014, and came to more than £21,000.

He­hir, of West Bond Street, Mac­cles­field, ad­mit­ted two charges of fraud by false rep­re­sen­ta­tion at Mac­cles­field mag­is­trates’ court.

She was sen­tenced to prison for 16 weeks, sus­pended for 12 months, and was or­dered to com­plete 150 hours un­paid work.

He­hir will have to pay back the full over­pay­ment and was also told she must also pay pros­e­cu­tion costs of £1,025.

Coun­cil­lor Les Gil­bert, cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­ni­ties, said: “We are an en­forc­ing coun­cil and we are com­mit­ted to work­ing with part­ner agen­cies to stop peo­ple from un­law­fully help­ing them­selves to tax­pay­ers’ money.

“Ben­e­fit fraud will not be tol­er­ated. The de­fen­dant in this case thought she could get away with claim­ing ben­e­fits she was not en­ti­tled to – but she now finds her­self worse off as a re­sult and with a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion for dis­hon­esty. She will also now have a big bill to re­pay the money she fraud­u­lently claimed.

“We are de­ter­mined to help track down fraud­sters and see they are brought to jus­tice to en­sure that the ben­e­fits sys­tem works for peo­ple who re­ally need help.”

A Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions spokesman said: “Most peo­ple claim­ing ben­e­fits are hon­est, but there are the un­scrupu­lous mi­nor­ity who cheat tax- pay­ers’ money out of our wel­fare sys­tem and di­vert it away from those who re­ally need it. Peo­ple pre­tend­ing to live alone to get ben­e­fits is one of the most com­mon types of ben­e­fit fraud, and this case shows our in­ves­ti­ga­tors are bring­ing crim­i­nals to jus­tice.

“Fail­ure to re­port a change in cir­cum­stances that may af­fect your ben­e­fit claim, such as a part­ner mov­ing in, is a crime. Small amounts of weekly over­pay­ments build up and you could end up hav­ing to pay back tens of thou­sands of pounds.

“Peo­ple must tell us if their sit­u­a­tion changes be­fore it’s too late. If you sus­pect some­one of fraud­u­lently claim­ing ben­e­fits, call our Na­tional Ben­e­fit Fraud Hot­line on 0800 854 440.”

‘She thought she could get away with it’

●● Mac­cles­field R.U.F.C at their trib­ute match against Tynedale in hon­our of Hugh Con­nolly

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