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Fraud and prosecutions

Student fraudster must do 120 hours unpaid work

A student who fraudulently pocketed housing benefit has been sentenced to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and to pay £100 towards costs.

Natalie Smith-Blair, of Arlington Lodge, Brixton was convicted at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court on 15 October, of failing to declare that she had commenced full-time studies at the London Metropolitan University three years ago.

The conviction came after Lambeth Council Benefit Investigations Team received information from the National Fraud Initiative that Ms Smith-Blair had been awarded student funding and loans.

On checking her benefit claim it became apparent that this funding and student status had not been declared. She had received £8,517.88 in Housing Benefits to which she had no entitlement.

Ms Smith-Blair was invited to attend interviews under caution by officers from the Benefit Investigations Team on three occasions but failed to attend.

“This successful prosecution is yet another example of the council’s determination to root out fraud with all the legal means open to us,” said Councillor Paul McGlone, Lambeth Council cabinet member for finance.

“Some people tend to think that housing benefit fraud is a victimless crime, but every penny going to someone not entitled to it, is money that we can’t spend on things such as playgrounds, CCTV or pavement repairs,” he declared.

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