AN ELLESMERE Port woman has been sentenced to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work after being found guilty of benefit fraud charges.
Jayne Sherman, 40, must also observe a Monday to Friday curfew from 8pm to 7am for six months. She was also ordered to pay costs of £1,000.
She was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, having been convicted during a five-day trial in September on 22 counts of failing to disclose a change in circumstances.
The case had been adjourned to allow her time to raise money to repay the amount of benefit obtained by fraud.
The offences, involving Income Support (IS), Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB), were committed between October 1999 and May 2005, with Sherman illegally claiming more than £40,000.
The court heard that Sherman had claimed benefit on the basis that she was an unemployed single parent.
Following an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public, Department for Work and Pensions fraud investigators established that Sherman was employed as an auxiliary worker by Ellesmere Port Primary Care Trust from September 2003.
She was also living as a couple with her partner Jeffrey Lee who was employed as a full-time concrete sprayer.
Evidence obtained from a lengthy and complex investigation included photographs obtained from surveillance and documentation from a variety of financial institutions and official bodies.
Sherman has repaid £15,000 and is continuing to make further repayments of £100 per month.
In sentencing, Judge Heaton commended the DWP investigators, saying that they “are often the unsung heroes in the way they protect the taxpayers’ money”.
After the sentencing Roy Paul, senior operations manager for Merseyside and Cheshire, said: “Benefit fraud is a crime – no ifs, no buts. Benefit cheats take money intended for the most vulnerable in our society. The public rightly get angry about such anti-social behaviour and, as in this case, with their support our skilled investigators will track down the fraudsters.
“If you suspect fraud, I would urge you to call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440.”