Woman who claimed housing benefit while living in the Big Brother House sentenced

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A woman who continued to claim housing benefit despite living in the Big Brother house on the reality TV show has been ordered to pay back £12,000 and do 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Birkenhead Magistrates’ Court heard that Sally Pryzbeck, 32, moved out of her apartment in Village Court, Dean Road, in Wallasey, on 8 July 2013 to move into the Big Brother House.

She appeared on the show under the name of Sallie Axl and did not move back into the Village Court apartment when she left the programme. However, she continued to be paid housing benefit.

The investigation revealed that she had failed to inform Wirral Borough Council of the change in her circumstances and, as a result, had been overpaid £12,349.82 in housing benefit.

Ms Pryzbeck told investigators that she had claimed housing benefit because she had separated from her partner and was a single parent living on a low income.

She pleaded guilty to a charge of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit, at an earlier hearing. 

She was sentenced at Birkenhead Magistrates’ Court on 19 February 2019.

Pryzbeck must pay back the amount she over-claimed in full, do 200 hours of unpaid work in the community, pay costs and a victim surcharge of £80.

Leanne Kennedy, for the CPS, said: “This is a substantial amount of money that was paid into Ms Pryzbeck’s bank account over a number of years.

“She must have been aware that the money was still being paid despite the fact that her circumstances had changed completely. She was no longer living in the house that she was being paid housing benefit for.

“The public purse is under considerable pressure and there are many demands on it. When people cheat the system in this way, they are taking money away from the people that genuinely need the help and support of the State.”

Notes to editors

  • Leanne Kennedy is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with the CPS Mersey-Cheshire Fraud Unit

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