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Home owner fraudulently claimed £48k benefit
4:13pm Tuesday 24th September 2013 in News
A pensioner claimed £48,000 in housing benefit for a house that she owned over a 14-year period, a court heard.
Josephine Conway, aged 69, of Bolton Road West, Ramsbottom, denied the charges but was convicted on nine counts of fraud Last Friday at Bolton Crown Court, she was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £5,000 within six months.
Conway initially made a genuine claim for the benefit in April 1987 when she rented the house from a friend, John Disney.
However the ownership of the property was transferred to joint names between Conway and Mr Disney in August 1988, which meant she should have stopped claiming for the payments because she was no longer required to pay rent.
In August 2004, Conway became the sole owner of the property, and continued to collect £70 a week in payments from Bury Council despite having no mortgage to pay.
Under questioning, Conway said she did not consider the property to be hers, even though it had been transferred to her name.
Judge Elliot Knopf said Conway deliberately and dishonestly made the housing benefit claims in full knowledge that she was not entitled to receive them.
Bury Council is taking steps to recover the money, with a charging order being placed on the house which will see the property, valued at £130,000, be sold to recoup the full amount from the equity.
Cllr John Smith, Bury Council cabinet member for finance, said after the hearing: “It’s wrong, and it’s unfair to people who are genuinely in need and entitled to benefits. We will continue to take action against people who abuse the system.”