Benefit fraudster jailed for four months

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A WOMAN was jailed today after she fraudulently pocketed thousands of pounds in housing benefits – despite living in a house owned by her husband.

Zeba Sultana, who was sentenced to four months inside, was also ordered to pay Milton Keynes Council compensation of £15,700, as well as £3,000 in prosecution costs, when she appeared before Amersham Crown Court today.

The judge also warned that if she did not pay back the outstanding debt within five and a half months she would be facing a further jail sentence.

The court heard that she had claimed the benefits while living at an address in Duncombe Street, Bletchley, which was a property owned by her husband.

Over roughly a two-year period she claimed Housing Benefit worth £18,884.97 and Council Tax Benefit of £3,966.05.

The fraud came to light following a datamatch as a result of the National Fraud Initiative, which indicated that more people were living at the Duncombe Street property than had been declared to the local Council Tax Department.

Further checks were undertaken and on being interviewed in June 2010, Sultana stated that her husband owned the property, claiming that he had moved out in 2007.

She further claimed that she was advised to obtain benefits by her family. But she walked out midway through the interview after refusing to answer any further questions.

She was originally summoned to appear at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court on January 13 but she elected to go to Crown Court.

At the first hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court on September 10 she pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud, contrary to Section 111A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

Today she was sentenced to four months immediate imprisonment, as well as being ordered to pay back the outstanding benefits amount of £15,700.

The prosecution was brought by the Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team team.

A spokesman said: “This was a clear case of dishonesty, whereby the perpetrator sought to defraud the public purse. Using various methods we were able to establish the true circumstances of the property ownership and connection to the benefit claimant.

“We hope that this case sends out the message that if you claim benefits to which you aren’t entitled, we will catch you and that you may go to prison.”