Benefit cheat spared jail for £25k fraud

News story
News story

A WIGAN mum who falsely claimed nearly £25,000 in benefits has been hit with a suspended jail sentence.

Lisa Gurein admitted falsely claiming a staggering £24,627 worth of income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit between February 2009 and March last year.

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard how the 31-year-old’s benefit claims, which were not fraudulent from the outset, were based on her being a single mum.

But evidence, including household bills, soon began to stack up against her, showing that she was in fact living with her partner, Ian Parkinson.

In interview, Gurein, of Oak Avenue, Golborne, admitted she was in the wrong and accepted that, by not informing the authorities of her change in circumstances, she had acted dishonestly.

She subsequently entered timely guilty pleas to nine benefits fraud charges before the courts.

Bob Toppin, defending, argued that his client, who is six months pregnant, was among the most remorseful defendants he had ever dealt with.

He told the court: “If I was to compile a top five list of those clients who were most worried, embarrassed and remorseful then this lady would be in it.

“She’s not slept since this case was brought.

“If I live to be 100 I will never see this lady in court again. I’m quite certain of that.

“She was gobsmacked when she realised how high the benefits overpayment was.”

Magistrates handed Gurein a 26-week jail sentence but suspended it for 18 months.

They also ordered her to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £85 towards prosecution costs and an £80 victim surcharge.