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25 July 2013, 06:00
A man and a woman who used the identity of a dead child to claim benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions, as well as trying to claim housing benefits from Bedford Borough Council, have been jailed.
Timothy Smith, 32, formerly of Goldington Road was jailed for five and a half months and Alix Grantham, 25, formerly of Prudden Close was jailed for three months after both pleaded guilty to charges at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court on Friday 19th July.
The deception was uncovered during a joint investigation between Bedford Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions Fraud Investigation Service.
Magistrates heard that Smith and Grantham conspired between them to hijack the identity of a dead child in order to claim various benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions and attempted to claim housing benefit from Bedford Borough Council.
In addition, Smith admitted to providing false statements to Bedford Borough Council regarding his living arrangements while in Bedford and Magistrates heard that his 'landlord' was in fact his mother.
Between November 2007 and October 2011 he fraudulently claimed more than £15,000 in housing benefit from Bedford Borough Council. In addition to his prison sentence, Smith has been ordered to repay all of the money claimed.
Councillor Shan Hunt, Portfolio Holder for Revenue and Benefits, said: "Trying to steal the identity of a dead child in order to claim benefits is clearly shocking and the sentence issued by the courts reflects the severity of this case.
"The vast majority of those claiming benefits are doing so entirely legally. However, the tiny minority of those who seek to play the system and defraud hardworking taxpayers will be found out and punished.
"This case should leave no-one in any doubt that we are very serious about that commitment."
Smith pleaded guilty to one count of making false representations in order to obtain Housing Benefit and one count of conspiracy to defraud the Department for Work and Pensions.
Grantham pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonesty, in conspiracy to defraud with Mr Smith and dishonestly failing to give prompt notification of a change affecting her benefit to Milton Keynes Council.