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Court punishes woman for benefit fraud

PUBLISHED: 07:27 27 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

A woman who claimed more than £28,000 in disability benefits, saying she had trouble walking, was caught out after undercover surveillance showed her doing her shopping unaided as well as holding down a part-time job.

A woman who claimed more than £28,000 in disability benefits, saying she had trouble walking, was caught out after undercover surveillance showed her doing her shopping unaided as well as holding down a part-time job.

Carolyne Hubbard, 56, received disability living allowance after saying she suffered restricted mobility following a hip replacement operation, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.

She claimed that she suffered pain in her legs which used to give way suddenly and that she had to walk held by another person for support or with a stick when she was outdoors. She said she was unable to work but it was also discovered that she

was working as a part-time night care assistant for Suffolk County Council.

Stephen Franklin, prosecuting, said Hubbard was caught on undercover surveillance video getting in and out of her car without any difficulty and walking unaided.

He said: “She was seen going to Tesco, walking from her car and leaving with her shopping apparently without any difficulty.”

Hubbard, of Station Road, Belton, admitted one offence of falsely claiming disability benefit and three of falsely claiming council tax benefit.

The court heard the total amount involved in false claims in the charges were £12,202, but Mr Franklin said the total overpayment was £28,338.

Guy Ayers, in mitigation, said: “This is not some Olympic athlete pretending they are something far less. She has a considerable degree of problems; she does walk with a stick and is very frail.”

He said her claim had started out as genuine but when her condition improved, she failed to tell the authorities, adding: “Her job did not involve heavy manual labour.”

He said the Department for Work and Pensions was going to recover the money overpaid her, adding: “She is going to have to repay £24,000-£28,000 whatever this court does.”

Recorder Ian Evans accepted her claim had not started out as false but said she failed to inform anyone when her circumstances changed. He gave her a 200-hour community punishment order.

If you suspect anyone of committing benefit fraud, you can call the confidential Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440.


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