Wigan benefits worker spared jail over £18k Universal Credit fraud

A Wigan woman whose job it was to decide on who was eligible for Universal Credit has been sentenced for fraudulently claiming the benefit.

The Fraud Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Rebecca Hanway, 30 of Bickershaw in Wigan, abused her position as a trusted member of the Department of Work and Pensions to defraud her employers of significant sums of money.

She was a Case Manager on the Universal Credit claims team, assigned to Makerfield Universal Credit Service Centre in Wigan, Greater Manchester.

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The CPS said that she misrepresented her own circumstances on 2 Universal Credit (UC) applications and hijacked five additional identities submitting a further five fraudulent UC claims in their names.

When she created these claims, Hanway supplied her own bank account details so she would receive the Universal Credit Advance Payments.

She also diverted advance payments from three other UC claims into her own bank account.

The total loss to public funds from Hanway’s fraudulent activity amounted to £18,260.95 over a period of approximately 7 months, from September 2018 to April 2019.

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Hanway committed the frauds by accessing the DWP computer system and misrepresenting her own position on 3 occasions, leading to payments of Universal Credit.

She also changed the bank account details on a number of claims to her own bank account leading to payments and used the identity of others to obtain payments of Universal Credit.

Today (Wednesday) at Bolton Crown Court she was given a 16 months jail term, suspended for 2 years and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and attend 20 days of a rehabilitation activity.

Justine McVitie of CPS Mersey-Cheshire Fraud Unit said: “Rebecca Hanway is a serial fraudster who abused her position of trust in a government department to cheat the public purse out of thousands of pounds.

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“In her position she would have been aware of the many genuine claimants of this benefit who genuinely need the help and support of the state to survive.

“Yet, despite earning an income of her own, she cheated and lied her way to claiming money she had no entitlement to.

“There are many demands on public money and cheats and fraudsters take money meant for others who genuinely need it.”