Croydon mum who illegally claimed £64,000 in benefits jailed
A benefit fraud mother-of-two reported to the authorities as "dripping with jewellery" has been jailed for more than a year.
Jackie Crane, Effingham Road, Croydon, repeatedly refused to admit illegally claiming benefits for housing, council tax and income support over a seven year period, but was sentenced to 16 months in jail today (September 5).
Crane wept as the court heard how she deliberately mislead Croydon Council and Department of Work and Pension officers between 2000 and 2007, illegally claiming more than £64,000, by failing to tell authorities she had a live-in partner on a substantial wage.
It was added that records of Income Support only dated back to 2004, and it was likely a further four years of fraudulent claiming could be added to that total.
Prosecuting Ini Udom said: "The investigation started through an anonymous complaint made referring to the defendant as dripping in jewellery."
The court heard how the 33-year-old’s former partner had brought two televisions and a fridge freezer for the home, as well as jewellery for Crane while she claimed benefits including free school meals for her children.
Miss Udom added: "Households with two working parents would struggle to afford this sort of expenditure."
As well as filling out forms on nine occasions failing to state she had a live in partner, Crane was visited by officers on three occasions and failed to notify them of her partner’s presence.
After being reported she denied his presence, claiming he lived with his mother forcing her to be dragged into the investigation.
In total the prosecution cost Croydon Council £54,000.
Judge Heather Baucher said: "This was a systematic and calculated fraud over a period of time. Benefits are there to protect the most vulnerable in society and by falsely claiming these benefits you deprived others of money they sorely need.
"By failing to own up to your actions you have incurred a further £54,000 cost to the tax payer, and while I have it in my power to order costs there is no feasible possibility you could pay."
The court heard Crane is currently paying off her Income Support debt at £10 a week until 2049, when she will still owe the government around £12,000.
An appeal into the amount of money owed to the Council is underway.