Mum cheated Rossendale council out of £5,000

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

A MOTHER-OF-TWO who cheated Rossendale Council out of almost £5,000 has pleaded guilty to benefit fraud.

Samantha Fielding, 23, failed to notify the council that she had moved out of the borough from her address at Mayfield Avenue, but continued to claim housing benefits.

Fielding, now of Brecon Avenue in Oswaldtwistle, was given a six-week curfew at Reedley Magistrates’ Court.

She began claiming housing benefits for herself and her 2 young children in October 2010 before moving to Hyndburn in April 2011.

But council fraud investigators discovered that she was still receiving payments of £380 per month in April 2012.

Fielding admitted that she had failed to disclose her change of address and claimed she did not notice the money going into her bank account.

Magistrates said that they believed Fielding had intentionally failed to declare the change in her circumstances and imposed a curfew order that requires her to wear an electronic tag and stay at home between the hours of 8pm and 7am.

She must also repay Rossendale Council a total of £4,918.

A council spokesman said: “The council takes benefit fraud very seriously and will continue to work hard to identify those who commit benefit fraud.

“Benefit fraud affects each and every one of us. It is not a victimless crime and the efforts of our benefit investigation unit are paying off.

“We encourage people to report changes to their circumstances in order to avoid action being taken against them.

“Benefit cheats can expect to face prosecution if they fail to notify us as soon as possible about changes in their personal circumstances however, dependant on the circumstances, the council can take other action to criminal proceedings.

“Benefit fraud is a crime and our investigators will seek out those who steal money intended for others, such as the vulnerable.”

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