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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

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Benefit fraudster ordered to repay almost £7,000 to Cumbria council

A BENEFIT fraudster has been ordered to repay almost £7,000 to a Cumbria council.

Sharon Murphy, 45, of 27 Castlefield, Ambleside pleaded guilty to one charge of dishonestly failing to give a prompt notification of a change in circumstances affecting her entitlement to housing and council tax benefit. She also pleaded guilty to four charges of dishonestly making a false representation with a view to obtaining benefits.

Ms Murphy was overpaid £6842.58 as a result and will have to pay this back in full to South Lakeland District Council.

Ms Murphy was also made the subject of a 12 month Community Order, where she was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

The court ordered her to pay the costs of the council in full of £429.45 and a £60 victim surcharge.

Ms Hartley, representing Ms Murphy said, she was given credit for her guilty plea by the court and was very sorry and deeply ashamed of what she had done. She said she was trying to make ends meet and had not led an extravagant lifestyle as a result of the fraud.

SLDC’s Revenues and Benefits Manager, Alan Raven, said: “People need to be aware that the council will always prosecute where deliberate fraud is uncovered. The council has a responsibility to protect public funds and SLDC will continue to take a tough stance on any type of benefit fraud.

“The vast majority of people are law abiding council tax payers and claim benefit they are entitled to correctly. It is only fair that we take action when benefit is claimed fraudulently.”

He added: “If people are having problems understanding the benefit system, they should talk to the council straight away or speak to one of the advice agencies and get help as quickly as possible.”

People caught cheating the benefit system can be fined up to £5,000 per offence and sentenced to a maximum of six months imprisonment or both in the Magistrates Court. If the case is referred to Crown Court the penalties are even more severe with the maximum penalty an unlimited fine or up to seven years imprisonment or both.

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