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18 May 2012, 16:04 | Updated: 18 May 2012, 16:09
An investigation by Mid Suffolk District Council fraud staff has uncovered how a man and woman from Stowmarket dishonestly claimed more than £42,000 in Housing Benefit from the Council.
55-year-old Rosalind Vaughan and 49-year-old George Gibbs from Union Road in Stowmarket appeared were sentenced for offences of fraud. They were each given an eight months suspended sentence for two years and ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work.
Ms Vaughan had pleaded guilty to six offences of fraud and Mr Gibbs pleaded guilty to seven offences of fraud.
Rosalind Vaughan began claiming Housing Benefit from August 2003 when she lived at a privately rented property in Barham. Ms Vaughan maintained that she was a sole tenant living with her daughter and that her landlord was a Mr George Gibbs. This information was falsely provided to the Council along with a false tenancy agreement, as Mr Gibbs was not the landlord but a joint tenant within the property. Mr Gibbs had also supplied false information to support her benefit claim.
In July 2007, continuing her benefit claim as a sole tenant, Ms Vaughan and Mr Gibbs then took a tenancy in Priestly Close, Stowmarket, again as joint tenants. Once again, Ms Vaughan provided a false tenancy agreement to Mid Suffolk District Council and on this occasion provided details of a fictitious landlord.
In January 2010, Mr Gibbs made a claim for Housing Benefit, stating that he had moved into Ms Vaughan's home, as she was supposedly sub-letting a room to him. This was a further attempt to claim benefits to which they were not entitled.
Officers became suspicious with Ms Vaughan's claim as the Housing Benefit she was receiving did not cover the rent charge, leaving her with a substantial shortfall to find each month, but she was maintaining her rent payments on her income.
After the fraud investigation, officers of the Council identified that the claims put forward since 2003 were inaccurate and the couple had been falsely claiming benefit.
Cllr Derrick Haley, Mid Suffolk Portfolio Holder for Finance said: "The Benefits Service is there to ensure that those who are entitled to help receive it. We take the custody of public money seriously and claiming benefits when they are not eligible is something we make every endeavour to bring these cases to justice - as the result of this case has shown."
If you think you know someone committing benefit fraud please report it, as the money they are taking could be used to help someone in need. You can find out more on the Council's website: http://www.midsuffolk.gov.uk/benefits/benefit-fraud/ or by calling the Benefit Fraud Hotline on: 01473 433999.