Benefits fraudster cheated herself

Feb. 1, 2013 at 12:13 AM

MACCLESFIELD, England, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A young Englishwoman was spared a jail term for benefits fraud after her lawyer told a court she would have received about twice as much by being honest.

Joanne Gibbons, 23, who has a young child, admitted in magistrate's court in Macclesfield, Cheshire, that she did not report her income from working in a store and as a hospital clerk. But her solicitor, Julian Farley, said she is now receiving a larger benefit check -- almost twice as large.

"Her fraudulent behavior was in effect saving the government money," Farley said.

"It is the most ridiculous mitigation I have ever had to bring before a court -- quite ridiculous."

Gibbons was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and to pay 100 pounds ($160) in court costs.

"It beggars belief that somebody making fraudulent claims would have received more in benefits had they been honest," said Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers' Alliance. "It proves the system is broken and doesn't provide the right incentives for claimants to go back to work."

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