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Mother who lied about owning a home to claim social housing told to repay almost £32,000

A council house tenant who lied about the fact that she owned a flat elsewhere has been ordered to repay more than £30,000 in ill-gotten gains.

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Suzanne Fox is currently behind bars

Suzanne Fox, formerly known as Suzanne Lines, lived in Dudley Council housing for nearly 10 years before her fraud came to light was jailed for fraud for 32 months earlier this year.

She must repay a total of £30,702.67 to the town hall or face more jail time after admitting six fraud offences relating to three dishonest applications for social housing between 2010 and 2015, two of which were successful, while renting out the flat she owned in Westley Court in West Bromwich.

A Proceeds of Crime hearing at Worcester Crown Court on Thursday heard that the total amount owed to the council was £34,000 and that her available assets were less.

Fox, aged 48, who remains in custody, was told that her privately owned property must be put on the market to recompense the public purse.

Judge Martin Jackson said: "I am going to make a Confiscation Order to recover most of the benefits of your criminal conduct for the offence of fraud that yo were sentenced for earlier this year."

"Your available asset is £30,702.67 and I am making an order for that sum which is to be paid as compensation to Dudley Metropolitan Council.

"I make it clear that if at some stage in the future the council finds that your finances are improved and you're in a position to pay the outstanding balance of £3,300 then the council can ask the court to amend the confiscation order so that you can pay that amount."

The case relates to the mother-of-two lodging a successful application for a one-bedroom flat in 2010, two years after buying the West Bromwich property.

Then in 2011 she made another application for a two-bedroom house in Byron Street, Pensnett which was also approved, but a third application in 2015 to upgrade again to a bigger property was turned down.

When she was asked to fill out forms which carried a question asking would-be tenants if they owned another property. She answered “no” on all three occasions.

Following her imprisonment in February housing chiefs said the total loss to the authority, combined with the financial gain made by Fox as a result of the long-running fraud was just under £200,000. This sum includes more than £4,200 of adaptations to create a wet room at the Byron Street property where she continued to live during the probe.

Fox now has 10 months to pay up or serve more time in prison in default. There was no order for costs.