A WOMAN from Chichester who had £75,000 in savings and falsely claimed more than £20,000 in benefit has received a suspended prison sentence, Chichester District Council said.
Darleen Gaffney, 32, of Caernarvon Road, Chichester told Chichester District Council (CDC) that she was claiming benefit because she was on a low household income and had no savings.
But a CDC investigation found that during her claim, Gaffney had not declared her savings and had also undertaken employment which she failed to declare.
This resulted in overpayments of £18,281.32 in housing benefit and £2,211.91 in council tax benefit.
Gaffney pleaded guilty to three charges at Worthing Magistrates Court on April 7 and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community work. CDC will recover the overpaid benefit directly.
Chris Dring, benefits manager at CDC, said: “We are very pleased with this result and believe it sends a strong message to the community that benefits cheats will not be tolerated.
“We will always take action where false claims have been made.”
Any residents across Chichester District who suspect someone of committing benefit fraud can contact the council’s investigation team on the confidential 24-hour fraud hotline number 01243 534590.
They can also log a report online at www.chichester.gov.uk