Benefit cheat ordered to pay £106,000

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A Ryedale woman who was jailed for an eight-year benefit fraud has been ordered to pay £106,000.

Although renting her own home near Malton, Sarah Elizabeth Dean, of Barton-le-Willows, claimed housing and council tax benefits from Ryedale District Council without revealing that she actually owned two other properties.

After being handed a one-year jail sentence last April, she returned to court last week to face confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act following an 
investigation by fraud investigators Veritau and the district council, in what the authority has dubbed a “landmark case”.

Angela Jones, the council’s business support manager, said: “I am delighted with the result. This was a very serious case of fraud against Ryedale District Council. The council has again shown that it will not tolerate fraud against it and will take the appropriate legal action against the 
people who commit it.”

Dean rented out both the houses she owned in York over the eight years she had claimed benefits and had not declared their existence, the income generated from them, or the building society 
account through which the money was paid. She pocketed a total of £44,698 in benefits that she was not entitled to as a result.

The confiscation hearing at York Crown Court on Friday saw her being ordered to pay £39,102.52 in compensation and a further £55,307, which was deemed to be the amount she received in rent by letting out the properties while claiming benefits. She must also pay full legal costs totalling £11,720.

A spokesperson for Veritau said: “We are pleased that the severity of this crime has been recognised, not just in the sentence handed down to the defendant but also with the awards made in court. Funds lost to the public purse have been successfully recovered and this sends a clear message that crime doesn’t pay.”

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