A woman who falsely claimed more than £26,000 of housing benefit has been handed a 120-day prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Tarnya Lang, 24, falsely claimed housing benefit of £26,087.85 on the basis of being a single parent with two children on low income while living at Curteys Walk, Bewbush.
She appeared before Crawley magistrates on Wednesday (October 22) where she was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid community service, pay £85 in costs and attend 10 sessions of the Special Activity Rehabilitation Course.
A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said Lang declared on October 20 2010, she was not related to her landlord, with whom she was living, when in fact her landlord was her mother.
The investigation started when the council’s housing department received an allegation Lang’s mother was not always living at her council property but was living in Spain.
Housing also received an application from Lang’s mother to downsize from a three bedroom property to a one bedroom property.
It was established Lang was the daughter of her landlord and she was therefore not eligible to claim housing benefit, because occupants are not able to claim housing benefit if their landlord is a parent.
Council leader Cllr Peter Lamb said: “The benefits system provides vital support for those in genuine need.
“While benefit fraud is rare, when people do abuse the system it reduces the support available for those in need and comes at a cost to all those who do play fair.
“We are committed to detecting and prosecuting people who commit benefit fraud.
“Any claimant whose circumstances change should contact us immediately.”
Anyone who thinks they know someone who is claiming benefits fraudulently can call the council free and in confidence 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.