Pub chef admits illegally claiming more than £2,000 in benefits

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A woman who said being bullied at work was an excuse for illegally claiming more than £2,200 in benefits has been sentenced for her offences.

Keri Dawn Curson, 38, of Blackthorne Grove, Woburn Sands, admitted fraudulently receiving a total of £2,272.47 when she appeared at Luton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, January 27.

Curson was claiming housing and council tax benefit from Central Bedfordshire Council having declared that that she was only in casual employment and working very limited hours.

In November 2013, Curson contacted the council saying that she had finished that work in February 2013 and remained unemployed until October of that year, living off her savings and being supported by her mother until she found new a new job working as a pub chef.

However, figures on wage slips revealed differently and her current employer told investigators that she had been working with them since January, 2013.

When she was interviewed under caution, Curson admitted having been employed from that date. She said that when she started she had been bullied by a colleague which had left her so upset that she tried to forget it had ever happened and this had led to her not telling the council the truth about her work; she added that she had been worried she would lose her house if she had not been able to pay the rent.

In total, Curson was overpaid £1,940.32 in housing benefit and £332.15 in council tax benefit.

On Tuesday, she was fined £310 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £545 and a victim surcharge of £31. She will also have to repay all of the money that she was overpaid.

Anyone who suspects that someone may be claiming benefits illegally can call the council’s confidential 24-hour fraud hotline on 0300 300 5577.

If you have any questions about your benefits, or to find out whether you are eligible to claim, ring the money and benefits hotline on 0300 300 8306.