Mother of four sentenced for £100k benefit fraud
A mother of four who fraudulently claimed almost £100,000 in benefits has been sentenced.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Claire Finney, 41, claimed benefits on the basis that she was living alone in properties in Salford and Eccles between April 2014 and July 2019 and raising her four children as a single parent.
In fact she was living with her husband, Joseph Perry, who was working and supporting her and the children. As a result she was overpaid Tax Credits, Income Support, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit by a total of £97,028.24.
Over the five years, Claire Finney made benefit claims from two addresses, one in Swindon Park Road, Salford and later, a house in Chelmer Way, Eccles. But records showed that her husband had owned the house in Salford since 2006. The council tax liability for the house switched to Finney in 2009. In a housing benefit claim, she said Joseph Perry was the “grandfather" of her children.
She moved to the house in Eccles in February 2016 and renewed her applications for benefits. She said she had split up from her partner and continued to be a single parent.
In reality, she continued to live with Joseph Perry as a common household. She, Mr Perry and her children had holidays at five-star resorts in Cyprus. When the Salford house was put up for sale in 2017, both her and Joseph Perry were joint vendors.
An investigation was begun by the Department of Work and Pensions and on 21 May 2021 at Tameside Magistrates Court, Claire Finney pleaded guilty to four offences of failing to disclose information to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, (HMRC) the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Salford City Council.
Today, 23 November 2021, at Manchester Crown Court, she was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years. She has begun repaying in instalments the amounts she fraudulently claimed.
Senior Crown Prosecutor George Ward, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Fraud Unit said: “ Over the five-year period covered by this investigation, Claire Finney had dozens of opportunities to tell the authorities the truth about her situation.
“Instead, on the claim forms and in phone calls to HMRC, the DWP and Salford Council, she continued to lie and said she was bringing up her children on her own.
“Claire Finney was living with her husband who was supporting her and her children and the two owned property and enjoyed foreign holidays. All the time she was claiming money from the public purse to which she had no entitlement.
“She has now ruined her reputation and has a criminal record. The CPS works with the DWP, HMRC, the police and local authorities to bring benefit cheats to justice. This money is badly needed by genuine claimants.”