A BENEFIT fraudster who knowingly gave false information and failed to report changes in circumstance has been fined at Worcester Magistrates Court.

Sarah Louise Cook, 25, of Nunnery Avenue, Droitwich, pleaded guilty to four counts of dishonesty by knowingly giving false information to the Department for Work and Pensions and failing to report changes in circumstances to Wychavon District Council.

A joint investigation carried out by the authorities found Cook was claiming benefits, totalling more than £8,000, for herself and husband.

She claimed she was sick and unable to work, and that her husband was unemployed, but the investigation revealed her husband was in fact working.

Further evidence obtained found that Cook’s husband had been receiving wages since February 6, 2011, and Cook had never declared this.

Nick Jefferies, Partnership Director on behalf of the South Worcestershire Partnership, said: “We consider benefit fraud to be a serious matter.

"People have a duty to notify us and report any change in circumstances when it comes to matters that might affect benefit payments, just as we have a duty to protect public funds.”

The investigation found there had been overpayments of £1,996.91 in Housing Benefit, £588.11 in Council Tax benefit, £1,637.01 in Job Seeker’s Allowance and £4,366.41 in Employment and Support Allowance.

This was a total of £8,588.44 in overpaid benefits.

On Thursday, May 1, Cook was fined £280 and ordered to pay court costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £60.

She will also ordered to repay the benefit fraud debts in full.

If you are claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support and are unsure as to whether or not you are still entitled to receive them, contact the Council on 0300 456 0560 for advice.

To report a case of benefit fraud call 01386 565280.