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A mother of eight who claimed more than £350,000 by falsely declaring some of her children had disabilities and other health problems has been jailed for four years. Heather Edwards reports.
Stewart Brooks, DWP senior fraud investigator, said:
"This was a complex case and our fraud investigators' perseverance ensured that this abuse of the benefits system was stopped.
"The Judge was clear in his praise for the DWP investigators and the staff who spotted the fraud that led to the investigation, calling their work impeccable.
"Our teams follow up calls to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline, check back through old cases for suspect activity and work closely with councils to make sure these criminals are brought to justice."
A mother-of-eight from Sussex has been jailed for four years for cheating the benefits system out of £350,000. Amanda Webber, aged 43, fraudulently claimed that five of her children had disabilities and conditions that affected their mobility.
The Department for Works and Pensions said Amanda Webber's case is one of the biggest single benefit fraud overpayments ever recorded.
The trial at Brighton Crown Court lasted five weeks. Prosecutors said that despite the reputed health problems they suffered, the children led active lives, taking part in PE classes and other activities, including music, drama and dance without signs of difficulties.
Webber, who lives in Sussex, denied 24 counts including fraud, obtaining a money transfer by deception and obtaining property by deception, but was yesterday convicted on all but one count - making a false representation.
Remanding Webber into custody, Judge Anthony Niblett said she would face a "substantial custodial sentence" as he described her as a "very dishonest woman".
The judge told her: "You have been convicted by the unaminous verdicts of the jury on clear evidence of serious offences of dishonesty involving deceiving the public purse and the taxpayer of around £350,000 over a period of some 10 years."
Webber received an overpayment of benefits to which she was not entitled of around £353,000 over an eight-year period from 2002, and at the time of her arrest lived in a seven-bedroom property.
The false payments related to DLA, carer's allowance, tax credits and housing and council tax benefit.
Amanda Webber, 43, was responsible for one of the biggest single benefit fraud overpayments ever recorded, according to Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) officials.
She fooled authorities by making claims on the basis that five of her eight children suffered various disabilities and conditions which affected their care and mobility needs, a five-week trial at Brighton Crown Court heard.
Prosecutors said that despite the reputed health problems they suffered, the children led active lives, taking part in PE classes and other activities, including music, drama and dance without signs of difficulties - and some auditioned for ITV's Britain's Got Talent.