Letchworth woman convicted of benefit fraud totalling almost £15,000
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A Letchworth woman has been given a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to seven charges relating to fraudulent claims for housing benefit and council tax reductions totalling almost £15,000.
Treena Mckelvie, of Mullway, pleaded guilty after failing to notify changes to her circumstances and making false representations in relation to her housing benefit claim and council tax reduction.
On June 5, Stevenage Magistrates' Court heard how the 45-year-old was receiving housing benefit and council tax reduction which was based upon information she provided to North Herts District Council.
Between January 2015 and April 2017 Mckelvie failed to notify the council of a change in her circumstances in relation to employment and when her partner moved into her address.
She also made false representations in March 2016 in a housing benefit and council tax reduction claim review form where she failed to notify the council that her partner was living with her. The total loss of public funds was £14,409.44.
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The matter was investigated jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service, which regularly investigates allegations of fraud against the council.
During an interview with officers from the DWP and SAFS, Mckelvie admitted to failing to declare a change of circumstances in relation to employment, however she denied the allegations relating to her partner living with her.
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She was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, which has been suspended for 12 months.
Councillor Ian Albert, NHDC's executive member for finance and IT, said: "We have a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud, it puts an unnecessary burden on the tax payer and those who try and cheat the system will be dealt through the courts.
"Resources are scarce and welfare benefits are precious public resources. People who act in this way are depriving others who really need this support.
"We have an excellent anti-fraud partnership with SAFS who have worked closely with the council and DWP's investigation team to get this result. We hope this prosecution serves as a warning to others that we take these crimes seriously and will pursue the strongest possible action against those who attempt to defraud us."
You can report suspected fraud in the strictest confidence. For more information, and to report your concerns, visit hertfordshire.gov.uk/spotfraud, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 123 4033.