A 47 year old woman from Vauxhall’s been given an 18 month jail sentence for fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in benefit. The offences came to light after newspaper reports of her conviction for falsely claiming more than £150,000 worth of VAT refunds from HMRC alerted Lambeth Council’s counter fraud team.
Investigators found that Monica Elizabeth Bircham had been in receipt of Housing & Council Tax Benefit since November 2010 on the basis that she was self- employed. However, she had not declared that she had received any VAT refunds and also failed to declare three bank accounts.
Inner London Crown Court heard that between November 2010 and January 2012, a total of £64,748 had been credited to a NatWest account of which HMRC had credited £51,600 During the period of her claim for Housing & Council Tax Benefit, a total of £27,177 was paid for school fees in respect of her child and Bircham had been overpaid in excess of £5,000 in benefits due to her failure to declare her true circumstances.
Bircham pleaded not guilty to twelve offences but was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work.
Cllr Paul McGlone, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance said: “This is another example of the great work of our fraud team. Lambeth council will not tolerate fraud and we’ve invested in front line staff to tackle this sort of crime that steals from the community. “
The council’s annual review of fraud showed that £4.65m worth of fraud had been prevented included nearly a million pounds in Right to Buy discounts and in the last year there have been 69 prosecutions, 31 sanctions and 48 official warnings.