Cleethorpes benefit fraudster caught after posting about life in Spain on Facebook

Louise Jones claimed more than £40,000 in disability benefits while helping to run a property business in Spain. Credit: MEN Media

A benefit fraudster who claimed thousands of pounds while running a property business in Spain was caught after boasting about her life on Facebook.

Louise Jones claimed disability benefits for almost a decade after moving to Alicante with her boyfriend Bruce McHardy.

She also fraudulently claimed housing benefits by saying she lived in homes she owned in Hull and Cleethorpes.

She has now been forced to sell her business and repay the stolen cash.

It came after she boasted on Facebook about her Costa Blanca lifestyle.

She posted pictures of her engagement and wedding to McHardy, while describing herself as managing director of his Spanish property business.

She claimed a total of £46,867.14 in disability and housing benefits and employment support allowance between 2007 and 2016 and £33,000 in severe disability allowance, but was entitled to claim that even when living in Spain.

Jones received a six-month suspended jail sentence in 2019 but was also pursued under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

She has now been ordered to repay £92,500, which represents her share of the sale of her late mother’s home in Kingskerswell and cash from her divorce settlement.

Judge Timothy Rose ordered her to pay £7,500 from the settlement to cover interest on the money. She has already paid £85,000 raised by the sale of the house in August last year.

Jones told the judge that she is now living on universal credit and personal independence payments because she is unable to work because of severe arthritis.

She said she had used up almost all her savings in moving to rented properties in Paignton and Moretonhampstead since selling her mother’s home.

Checks showed she had spent more than half of each year abroad and Facebook posts featured her as Louise McHardy, managing director of McHardy Spanish Properties.

She was unable to tell investigators the names of any of her neighbours in Hull and North Lincolnshire.