An anonymous tip off from a member of the public has led to investigators uncovering almost £44,000 worth of benefit fraud by a Kempston woman.
Samantha Brennan, 47, of Bedford Road, appeared at Luton Crown Court on Friday, June 27 where she pleaded guilty to stealing more than £43,000 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support.
Brennan admitted three offences of failing to inform the council that her estranged husband had returned to the family home.
The deception was uncovered when a member of the public called the council’s fraud hotline, with information that Brennan’s husband, had lived there for years while Samantha claimed benefits as a single mother.
A joint investigation by investigators from Bedford Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions Fraud Investigation Service then found that the allegations were true.
His Honour Judge Bridge heard that from August 2008 to June 2013, Mrs Brennan stole £16,565.79 in Income Support, £23,074.15 in Housing Benefit and £4,156.05 in Council Tax Benefit from the public purse by pretending to be single even though her husband Christopher Brennan was living with her.
She was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,500 costs for the prosecution. She will also have to repay the benefits that she stole.
Councillor Shan Hunt, Executive Member for Revenue and Benefits, said: “For five years Brennan’s dishonesty enabled her and her husband to enjoy a better lifestyle than many honest hardworking residents can afford. This is totally unacceptable and we are determined that dishonesty should never pay. I am pleased with the help we received from a member of the public which shows how everyone can help us to crack down on benefit cheats.
“Financial support is intended to help those who genuinely need it and it is important that those people receive the full amount available to them.”