Mum spared prison after windfall scam

A MUM has avoided jail after failing to declare she had a £60,000 inheritance while claiming almost £25,000 in benefits.

Lisa Robinson was left the sum when her father passed away, but did not notify the authorities of the legacy, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.

On top of the inheritance, Robinson claimed £15,674 in income support and Jobseeker’s Allowance and a further £9,060 in housing and council tax benefit, resulting in an over-payment of £24,734.

The 42-year-old, from Hartlepool, also neglected to tell the appropriate agencies that she had started work as a self-employed collection agent, raking in an average weekly wage of £129.

Magistrates sentenced Robinson, of Rosthwaite Close, in the town’s Baker’s Mead estate, to 10 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, alongside a 12-month supervision order.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Peter Heron told Robinson justices were “going outside their guidelines” by not sending her to prison.

He said: “The fraud was deliberate and there was a high value involved.”

Tony McNab, prosecuting on behalf of Hartlepool Borough Council, said Robinson claimed income support from January 28, 2005, on the basis she was a lone parent.

She said her only income was child benefit and savings of just £20.

She also claimed housing and council tax benefit and acknowledged that she must inform the authorities of any changes that may affect her claim.

Mr McNab said: “Lisa Robinson completed a further benefit review form in May 2006, stating she was in receipt of income support and had £20 in savings.

“No other income or capital was declared.”

He added: “On June 22, 2010, a referral was received from the General Matching Service which said Robinson was in receipt of capital and an investigation was began.

“Ms Robinson was interviewed by investigators for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the council. She admitted she had received approximately £60,000 in inheritance from her late father and should have notified the DWP of this.”

The court heard that bank statements were obtained and Robinson failed to disclose that on May 19, 2006, the day she completed a housing and council tax benefit review form, she had £39,188 in one bank account, £5,051.60 in another and just over £3,000 in an ISA account.

Mr McNab said further investigations found Robinson had been working as a self-employed collection agent since January 2010 and she had not told the DWP or the council.

Robinson admitted failing to notify the council she had received a capital sum between August 18, 2005, and May 18, 2006, failing to notify the council she had started work between January 6, 2010, and August 28, 2011, and failing to notify the DWP that she had savings over £5,500 between May 18, 2005, and August 28, 2007.

No mitigation was given, but the court heard Robinson is making re-payments of £26.10 in deductions from her entitlement to housing benefit and has paid back around £313.

She has paid £240 back to the DWP at £100 per month.

Robinson must also pay £400 court costs.