North Essex woman jailed after buying two homes while falsely claiming £71k in benefits
- Credit: Lucy taylor
A woman who bought two homes while falsely claiming more than £71,000 in benefits has been jailed.
Deborah Macklin, of New Street, Brightlingsea, admitted six counts of dishonesty and failing to declare her circumstances during a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court.
An investigation by Colchester Borough Council found Macklin, who was living in Garland Road, Colchester, at the time of the fraud, had not told authorities she got married in 2002 and was living with her husband.
As a result she was overpaid a total of £71,348.38 in income support, housing and council tax benefit between September 2002 and September 2008.
The investigation also found she had purchased two properties in Colchester while in receipt of benefit.
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On Monday she was sentenced to a 15-month jail term, and ordered to pay back £71,000 in compensation, during a second hearing at the court.
Repayment terms will be organised on her release from prison.
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The council said it was clamping down on residents who deliberately claim benefits they are not entitled to.
A spokesman said: “We are pleased with the outcome of this case and it sends out a message which highlights the seriousness of fraudulent benefit claims.
“The council endeavours to pay benefits to those who are entitled but also investigate the abuse of the system.”
Responding to a Freedom of Information request by the East Anglian Daily Times earlier this year, Colchester Borough Council said in 2013/14 a total of £553,810.31 was fraudulently claimed in benefits.
Across North Essex the total was almost £1.18million.
Anyone can report suspected fraudulent activity to the council online by visiting www.colchester.gov.uk/benefitfraud.