Benefits cheat who claimed £21k spared jail
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