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20 October 2013, 06:00
A married mum from Ascot who said she was a single parent so that she could fraudulently claim £96,000 in tax credits has been jailed for 10 months.
Lisa Lay, 47, a former civil servant, from Bouldish Farm Road, failed to disclose her husband's income on her tax credits claims between 2003 and 2011, telling HM Revenue and Customs officers that she had been separated from her husband since 1998.
John Cooper, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: "Lisa Lay told HMRC officers that her husband was living with relatives, but that she hadn't told them or friends that she was separated. That was because her excuses were lies - she was married and living with her husband all the time."
Her lies were exposed when HMRC investigators found photos of family holidays that proved they had been together throughout her claim, living at three addresses in Sunningdale and Ascot, Berkshire.
Lay initially denied tax credits fraud but pleaded guilty on the first day of her trial at Reading Crown Court. She was sentenced on Friday 18 October.
Upon sentencing, Her Honour Judge Morris said: "This was fraudulent from the outset. These benefits were not being used for necessities; benefits are there for people who need them and not for going on holiday. People who choose to defraud the benefit system must be marked by an immediate custodial sentence."