Dudley tax office worker in 'despicable' £56,000 fraud
A tax office worker acted ‘despicably’ by fraudulently claiming more than £56,000 in tax credits over seven years, a court heard.
Rebecca Gray, a customer services officer at the Dudley tax office, was in ‘a unique position’ to know that what she was doing was wrong, a judge told her but spared her a jail sentence.
Gray, aged 32, had lied when she claimed she had split from her partner and moved into her grandfather’s Wolverhampton home, making her eligible for a single parent’s tax credit allowance.
The mother-of-four had also understated the amount of maternity pay she received, entitling her to more maternity credit, whilst overstating the child care cover she needed.
She joined the Dudley tax office in 2006 when she started making a joint claim with her partner for child tax credits, said Ms Lynette McClement, prosecuting.
She alleged her relationship with her partner broke down in July 2014, and started claiming single parent’s tax credits, when in fact she was still living with him in Lower Gornal, Dudley.
But on various official forms after that date both had named the other as next of kin or emergency contact. They made council tax payments from a joint Lloyds Bank account registered at the Lower Gornal address.
The court heard she was double-claiming for the cost of child care.
Her partner was not facing similar charges because the false claims were made in her name.
Gray, who was sacked from her job at the tax office, was arrested in March last year.
A search warrant was issued for the Lower Gornal address where further evidence was found of the couple's co-habitation, including documents and, in the master bedroom, women's paraphernalia such as jewellery, handbags and make-up.
A check with her grandfather showed she had not lived at his address for 11 years.
Gray had benefitted by £100 a week in maternity benefits and £275 a week in child care costs.
The total overpayment between 2009 to 2016, was £56,344, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard. It is expected this will be subject of a court case under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recoup the money.
Gray, of Brookdale, Lower Gornal, Dudley, pleaded guilty to four offences of contravening the Tax Credit Act.
She was sentenced to two years jail suspended for two years and given a 12-month supervision order.
Recorder Nicholas Syfret, QC, told her: “You behaved despicably. You were in a unique position to know that what you were doing was wrong.
"You richly deserve to go to prison immediately and if it wasn't for the fact you have four children, one of them just six months old, that is where you would be going. You behaved extremely stupidly."
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