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Warning issued to benefits cheats

PUBLISHED: 15:36 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:32 02 July 2010

Peter Walsh

A hard-hitting warning has been issued about the consequences of benefit fraud after a 24 year old mum was sentenced to a 12 month community order and 150 hours unpaid work for over-claiming almost £10,000 in benefits.

A hard-hitting warning has been issued about the consequences of benefit fraud after a 24 year old mum was sentenced to a 12 month community order and 150 hours unpaid work for over-claiming almost £10,000 in benefits.

Samantha Katie Hall, of Lion Wood Road, off Plumstead Road, Norwich, was caught out by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Norwich City Council fraud investigators, following a tipoff to the benefit fraud hotline.

She was found guilty of claiming Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit worth £9851 as a lone parent, despite living with her partner.

Following the sentencing on Thursday at Norwich Magistrates Court, fraudsters were warned that DWP investigators are everywhere and have just one aim - to catch benefit thieves.

Once caught, benefit is stopped while an investigation is carried out. Then the benefit thief may face prosecution in court, fines or even imprisonment. No matter what the punishment, the money must always be repaid as well.

Ian Hounslow, DWP fraud officer from Norwich, said: “If you are tempted to commit fraud - think again. You face an army of more than 3,000 benefit fraud investigators and we are well experienced in the tricks and tactics people use to swindle the taxpayer.

“When you are caught, you will have a criminal record - a stigma that will impact on both you and your family for years to come. It will affect your credit rating, your job prospects and the way people think about you. Why put yourself and your family through all that?”

This warning comes as DWP launches a new national ad campaign targeting benefit fraudsters.

Last year the Department for Work and Pensions' investigators caught 56,493 cheats. In part that's thanks to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline - 0800 854 440 - which gets hundreds of tip-offs every day.

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