A Wakefield woman who claimed over £45,000 in benefits while secretly working has been convicted of fraud.
Jennifer Stewart, 51, admitted fraudulently claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years when she appeared at Leeds Crown Court on Monday. She was ordered to undertake 180 hours of community service and 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
The court heard Stewart claimed the was too ill to work and told her benefits assessor she could not cope with public places or people and had her son take her out and do her shopping as she was unable to leave the house due to her severe depression and anxiety.
However, carer Stuart was actually working at a care home and her crime was uncovered after an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions. The investigation discovered she had not even taken a day off on the day she first made her claim.
Stuart even claimed that she remembered calling the DWP in an attempt to cancel her claim, but said she may have fallen asleep whilst on the phone.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, said: “The message is clear, we will not let criminals get away with benefit fraud.
“This case is further proof of our commitment to ensuring fairness for the taxpayer by cracking down on fraudsters intent on cheating the system.”
DWP Minister responsible for tackling fraud, Tom Pursglove MP, said: “Shameless attempts to defraud the taxpayer and our benefit system will face the full force of the law. We are determined to protect taxpayers’ money and ensure our support goes to people who really need it.”
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