Published Monday, 29th February 2016
A Banstead woman has been handed a three month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after she was convicted of committing benefit fraud totalling over £23,000.
Mrs Sally Anne Mullane, aged 64, of Mint Road, Banstead was sentenced on 16 February 2016 at Redhill Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to dishonestly failing to tell Reigate & Banstead Borough Council about money she had in declared and undeclared bank accounts. The court also ordered Mrs Mullane to pay the Council’s costs of £100 and a victim surcharge of £80.
The fraud, which dates back to 2011, saw Mrs Mullane claim £19,247.53 in Housing Benefit and £1,493.52 in Council Tax Support from the Council that she was not entitled to, as well as underpaying on her Council Tax by £1,026.28. She also fraudulently claimed £1,331.80 in Employment Support Allowance from Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
The fraud was uncovered by the Council’s Fraud and Error Team, working in partnership with the DWP. Routine checks made in administering her benefit claim showed that since making her claim in 2009, Mrs Mullane had received very large sums of money into the bank account she had declared on her claim form. Further investigation revealed that she had a second undeclared bank account, which had also received large undeclared deposits, and that Mrs Mullane had deliberately failed to notify the Council or the DWP of this change in her circumstances.
Following sentencing, Cllr Rita Renton, Executive Member for Housing and Welfare, said: “We work hard to prevent, detect and investigate all types of fraud against the Council and our taxpayers. Housing and Council Tax Benefit is there for people who really need it and we will not hesitate to prosecute those who abuse the system.
“If you are claiming benefit it is important you tell us about changes in your circumstances that may affect your entitlement, or face the consequences.
“I hope this serves as a warning to others that trying to cheat the system does not pay.”
Mrs Mullane has since paid back her Council Tax and Council Tax Support overpayments and taken steps to begin paying back the over payment of Housing Benefit.
If you have any information or concerns about a suspected fraud, you can report it in confidence online at www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk/fraud, call 01737 276483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.