£20k benefit cheat prosecuted
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal
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A woman has been prosecuted for fraudulently claiming nearly £20,000 in housing and council tax benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance.
Nastaha Windiate, 24, had been claiming the benefits as a single person since November 2008.
As a result of a joint investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), investigators from Worcester City Council found that Windiate had failed to declare that she was living together with her partner, Adam Windiate, at the same address.
Adam Windiate was working while she was continuing to claim benefits.
The illegal claims related to her current address at 31 Chedworth Drive, Worcester, and her previous addresses of 37 Randwick Drive and 6 Chedworth Close, which she had rented in the city.
When interviewed about the matter in October 2011 and February 2012, she denied they had been living with her partner as part of a common household.
However, at the second interview, by which time her benefits claims had already been cancelled, she confirmed that they were married on 26 November 2011.
The investigation uncovered that Windiate had received overpayments of £7,647.67 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and £12,256.92 in housing and council tax benefit.
She pleaded guilty to the charges at Worcester Magistrates' Court on February 7.
Windiate's solicitor told the bench that was "utterly ashamed" of her actions.
The crook was ordered to fully repay all the benefits to which she was not entitled and gave her a conditional discharge of 24 months.
Prosecutors for the council were awarded costs of £500.
Nick Jefferies, the council's head of shared services, said: “We consider benefit fraud to be a serious matter. People have a duty to notify us and report any change in circumstances when it comes to matters that might affect benefit payments, just as we have a duty to protect public funds.”