Couple Sentenced After £35k Benefit Fraud

A couple from Stradbroke in Suffolk have been given a suspended jail term after falsely claiming more than thirty five thousand pounds in benefits.

An investigation by Mid Suffolk District Council fraud staff found they dishonestly claimed Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Income Support.

Daren and Susan Ward of Stradbroke appeared in Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday 20th  December 2012, to be sentenced for offences of fraud, counterfeiting and forgery. 

For the six offences of fraud, Daren Ward was sentenced to 10 months suspended for 18 months and for the two offences of counterfeiting and forgery he received a 6 month sentence suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

Susan Ward was order to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and received a 6 month sentence suspended for 18 months.

At an earlier hearing Daren Ward pleaded guilty to six offences of fraud and two offences of counterfeiting and forgery. Susan Ward pleaded guilty to four offences of fraud. 

42 year old Daren Ward began claiming Income Support as a single parent in August 2007. He then proceeded to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit in June 2008 for a privately rented property in Stock, Nr Chelmsford, Essex.

These claims were false because at the time he was living and working in France, his children attended a French school and his wife would travel to join the family at weekends. 

Meanwhile Susan Ward occupied the address in Stock, which was a convenient commute to her job at HM Treasury in London.

When Daren Ward returned to the UK in 2009 the whole family moved to privately rented accommodation in Stradbroke, Suffolk. He continued to maintain he was a lone parent but in fact 49 year old Susan Ward was living with him and still working, in a responsible position, for HM Treasury, this time commuting to their offices in Norwich. 

Officers became suspicious when the letting agents for the property in Stradbroke wrote to the Council to advise that the new tenants were a Mr and Mrs Ward. It was then that the tenancy agreement supplied by Daren Ward was found to be false.

After a lengthy investigation, Council investigators identified other false claims made by Daren Ward and uncovered a further counterfeit tenancy document that had been supplied to Chelmsford Borough Council for the address in Stock.

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