Croydon mum Melissa Urquhart told to pay up £23,000 or face jail
A mum who was jailed for £100,000 benefit fraud has been told she must pay £23,000 or return to prison.
Melissa Urquhart, 34, was subject to the ruling after Croydon Council carried out a confiscation order to find out how much she had gained from her claims.
Urquhart, who lives in Albert Road, South Norwood, was sentenced to one year in prison last October after admitting nine benefit fraud offences.
She claimed £66,000 in housing and council tax benefits from 2003 to 2011, along with £34,000 in income support.
Urquhart had failed to tell the council and the Department for Work and Pensions she had inherited her father’s house in Stratford, east London.
She later used estate agents to rent the property to her boyfriend and failed to declare the rental income she received.
In the meantime she was claiming benefits to pay her rent in Croydon.
Following Urquhart’s sentencing, the council’s financial investigators discovered she had submitted false mortgage forms to buy and re-mortgage the Stratford property.
A confiscation hearing at Croydon Crown Court heard she had benefited from her crimes by around £350,000.
This includes the benefit fraud, the amount she gained in false mortgages and the rent she received on the house in Stratford.
Urquhart was ordered to pay £23,254.54, the amount she would have left over following the sale of the house, or face 12 months in prison.
Councillor Dudley Mead, deputy leader of the council, said: “We’ll not only make sure that benefit cheats are sentenced by the courts, but we will also investigate how much they have gained as a result of their criminal activity.
“We will always seek to ensure any proceeds of crime are recovered and that the public purse is reimbursed.”