A woman who wrongly claimed £163,558 of Income Support has been jailed for two and a half years.
40 year old Delia Jose Vieira Gaspa Browne was found guilty at the Royal Court of one charge of knowingly furnishing false information with intent to obtain an award and one charge of failing to notify a change of circumstances.
She claimed the money between 2007 and 2016 after failing to disclose that her husband, who she was separated from, was still part of the household.
Her husband was found not guilty of helping her.
The Social Security department calculated the total over-payment to be in excess of £160,000, but Browne was convicted on the basis the she did not necessarily have criminal intent until 2012 and had therefore fraudulently obtained £75,000.
Following the sentencing, Social Security Operations Director Stephen Jackson released a statement:
“The outcome of this court case, during which Mrs Delia Browne was found guilty and has now been sentenced by the Royal Court, is testament to the hard work of the Enforcement team at Social Security and the detailed work they have undertaken under many months to ensure that public money is not awarded to people who are not entitled to it. In this case, that was a significant amount, of £163,558.
“Although court cases such as this are rare, when evidence comes to light that public money is being abused and claimed falsely, then Social Security will take all steps necessary to ensure that the people involved are brought to justice. The department will always pro-actively combat fraud, no matter if the amount is small or large. The Department will consider prosecution where appropriate, as in this case, where co-habitation was identified on a lone parent claim. All referrals are graded to enable the Department to use their resources as effectively as possible.
“The time taken to conclude an investigation such as this varies depending on the nature and complexity of the case. A simple case may be a few hours’ work, but something much more complex, and of a greater monetary value, such as this, that could be referred for criminal prosecution, can take months of detailed work from beginning to end.
“Often leads are identified as genuine mistakes from claimants rather than fraud and these can be quickly rectified and repayment arranged. However, in the event that fraud is suspected investigations are carried out.
“The Department is grateful to the support it receives from islanders who provide anonymous information on potential benefit fraud . This can be done via the dedicated fraud hotline 0800 735 1111 and via www.gov.je/Benefits/BenefitFraud.”