Mother fraudulently pocketed nearly £82k in benefits by claiming to be single
A mother who fraudulently pocketed nearly £82,000 in benefits by falsely claiming to be single has been jailed for nine months.
Clare Fleming told the authorities that between October 2009 and September 2015 she was single and had no other income than what she earned from a part-time job.
This meant she wrongly received the cash in tax credits - amounting to nearly £14,000 a year - when in fact her partner, Michael Beavon, had been living in the family home.
Fleming was thwarted after investigators uncovered the truth of her relationship following an allegation of wrongdoing.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court on Monday, the 35-year-old was jailed for nine months having previously pleaded guilty to a charge of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent payment of tax credits.
Fleming's barrister, Miss Nicola Hunter, told the court when the tax credit claim was first made Fleming had been living with her partner.
She said: "Her partner was unfaithful and the relationship ended. There was a period when he left the family home.
"When she made a renewed claim on the basis she was single, she says that was legitimate.
"Over a period of time she became under increasing pressure. As a result her ex started to assist her firstly with her first child and then a second child came along.
"He started to spend more time at the family home. Almost without her realising it he became a more permanent fixture at home.
"Initially she wanted to maintain some independence and she was not sure about the longevity of the renewed relationship, but she fully accepts through her plea that she should have kept the authorities properly informed."
Recorder Paul Bleasdale QC was unsympathetic to Fleming's version of events and said that given the sum of money he had "no alternative" to an immediate jail sentence.
He said: "I can't accept you had no idea of the financial benefit you could gain from your criminal behaviour. I am satisfied you knew what you were doing."
The court heard Fleming, of Ellerton Walk, Wolverhampton, had one previous conviction for shoplifting for which she was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.
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