TWO Solihull fraudsters were convicted of making false tax credit claims for children at Coventry Crown Court last Friday.
Scott Collins, aged 37, of Hilleys Croft, Chelmsley Wood, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, for stealing £21,006 with his partner, Cherie Jayne Haydon. He was also ordered to carry out 75 hours of community work.
Haydon, also 37, of Severn Close, Smith’s Wood, was given a six-month sentence, suspended for 12 months, on the same charge. She was told to do 50 hours’ work.
A third defendant, Rushella Russell, 26, of Inverness Road, Northfield, Birmingham, was jailed for 18 months for stealing £57,976 by making false claims.
The prosecution followed an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs into fraudulent claims for children who they believed did not exist, had previously been taken into care or for whom disabilities had been invented.
Eight people were charged across the West Midlands last October over tax fraud totalling about £266,500. Three sisters, living in Chelmsley Wood and Shirley, were given jail terms ranging from six to eight months.
Adrian Farley, assistant director for HMRC, said: “The outcome to the final stage in this latest prosecution shows we are tackling the ruthless theft of money from the public purse needed to fund public services for the benefit of everyone.
“This will send a clear and firm message to those falsely claiming tax credits, or considering such measures. We have stringent and effective teams in place to investigate and to ensure this illegal activity is ended. Those involved in this form of crime are exploiting their children, particularly those in care, for purely personal gain.”
l Anyone with information relating to tax credit fraud can call the Benefits Fraud Helpline on 0800 854 440 in confidence.