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Tuesday 20 November 2012 Updated: 20/11 08:11
A DISHONEST Leamington woman who saved almost £27,000 while fraudulently claiming housing benefit is repaying the money she obtained at just £20 a month.
Monica Bachert, 57, of Franklin Road, had admitted seven charges of making false statements to obtain housing and council tax benefit from Warwick District Council.
Bachert also pleaded guilty to a further charge of failing to notify the authority of a change in circumstances.
She was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, with 18 months supervision, and was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and to pay £300 costs.
Prosecutor Anya Newman said that between July 2002 and September last year Bachert obtained £21,590 in housing benefit and £5,696 in council tax benefit to which she was not entitled.
And she said that Bachert’s claims for benefit were ‘fraudulent from the outset.’
Although she may have been entitled to some benefit when she made her first application in July 2002, she failed to declare that she had savings of £8,373 or that she was working for Welcome Break, which would have affected the amount.
When she renewed the claim in September the following year she would not have been entitled to any benefit because her savings, which she did not declare, were more than £17,000.
She filled in another application in October 2004, by when she had savings of £22,678, and made more fraudulent claims in 2005 and 2006 at a time when her savings continued to grow.
In yet another fraudulent claim in June 2010 she failed to declare savings of £35,046 or that she was working for Compass Payroll Services and her partner was living with her.
The council were alerted in March last year, and when Bachert was interviewed she made some admissions – but not about the fact that she was working or that her partner of 30 years, who had accompanied her to the interview, was living with her, claiming they were just friends.
No mention was made in court about what has happened to the savings Bachert had accumulated.
Miss Newman said Bachert was now repaying the housing benefit figure at the rate of £20 a month, while the council tax liability had been added to her ordinary council tax bill.
Colin Charvill, defending, said Bachert had "difficulty understanding certain things" and added although she had lived with her partner for some time, it appears he had taken advantage of her because he had made no contribution to their household expenditure.
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