£7,000 false benefits claims

A WOMAN claimed £7,000 in benefits even though she was working, a court has heard.

Carma Barros falsely claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit and failed to declare she was working to either the Department of Work and Pensions or Eastbourne Borough Council.

Barros, 44, of Edmund Close, pleaded guilty to making false statements on benefit claim forms when she appeared before Eastbourne magistrates and was given a 12-month community order.

She must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £50 court costs.

The court heard Barros was found to have failed to declare that she was in employment and, when interviewed under caution, she admitted to making false claims to help alleviate her debts.

She had obtained £4,163.48 in benefits from Eastbourne Borough Council between November 2009 and March 2012 and claimed £2,609.70 in Jobseeker’s Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions. She will also have to repay both amounts.

A spokesperson at the council said, “This type of fraud will not be tolerated and should not be seen as a way out of financial difficulty.

“We are actively pursuing fraudulent claims because fraud affects everyone within this borough and, if caught, we will seek to prosecute. We ask that every person who is claiming benefits to inform the benefits office of any changes that may affect their benefit as soon as the change happens.”

Members of the public who wish to report fraud can leave information on the Benefit Fraud Hotline by calling 0800 7317039, which is staffed by investigations officers during office hours and an answering service out of these hours.