Council snared ‘worst ever’ benefits cheat

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A council has revealed how it snared a benefits cheat who swindled more than £104,000 to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Helen Gough was sentenced to two years in jail at Derby Crown Court last week after fraudulently claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support to finance a 20 bedroom mansion in the village of Wheatcroft, near Crich.

Investigators at Amber Valley Borough Council said it was the worst case of benefit fraud the authority has ever dealt with.

Now, officials at the council have told how the conwoman – who also reared thoroughbred horses and owned a BMW and Land Rover Discovery – was caught when a council officer spotted a discrepancy. It was then investigated by the council’s Benefits Investigation Team, which led to a joint investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Councillor Stuart Bradford, Leader of Amber Valley Borough Council, said: “It was thanks to the vigilance and the diligence of the individual officer and the determination of the Benefits Investigations Team that has resulted in this case being vigorously pursued. “The case is truly shocking and is proof that we are determined to go the whole way in making sure, where we have evidence, we will not hesitate in taking action against those who commit benefit fraud”.

To report a benefits cheat phone the council’s Benefits Investigation Team on 01773 841466.