Benefit fraudster caught after posting details of her wedding online
PUBLISHED: 15:58 26 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 11 May 2010
A BENEFIT fraudster has been busted after investigators found her wedding plans on a networking website. Former dance teacher Kelly Westgate, 28, posted details of her marriage on the Friends Reunited site, where they were spotted by eagle-eyed investigat
A BENEFIT fraudster has been busted after investigators found her wedding plans on a networking website.
Former dance teacher Kelly Westgate, 28, posted details of her marriage on the Friends Reunited site, where they were spotted by eagle-eyed investigators.
She was overpaid more than £3,000 of housing and council tax benefits after failing to inform South Cambridgeshire district council she had married and was living with her husband.
Westgate, of Beeton Close, Melbourn, admitted failure to report a change in circumstances at a hearing at Cambridge Magistrates Court last Thursday.
In mitigation, the court was told that the former teacher at The Dance Academy recently separated from her husband and was now unemployed. She was sentenced to a six-week curfew order requiring her to wear an electronic tag and stay in her home from 8.30pm - 7am each day. The overpaid benefit totalling £3,243.24 is also being recovered.
A separate case heard on the same day saw Olga Serstena, 29, of Willow Way, Hauxton, plead guilty to making three dishonest declarations to falsely obtain £3,579.88 in housing and council tax benefits. In her application she claimed that she was single, when she was actually living with her husband.
Magistrates sentenced Serstena to a two-month curfew order requiring her to be tagged and stay in her home between 7pm - 7am for two months. They also ordered her to pay £250 towards the costs of the prosecution, and to refund the overpaid cash.
Cllr Ray Manning, leader of South Cambridgeshire district council, said: "Newly revised sentencing guidelines mean that benefit fraudsters are more likely to be handed curfews, fines and custodial sentences of up to seven years. Think twice before committing benefit fraud in South Cambridgeshire, because we will not hesitate to pursue criminal prosecution in appropriate cases."
Benefit claimants can call the district council on 03450 450 061 or visit www.scambs.gov.uk for help and advice if they need to amend their claim or their circumstances change.
Anyone who suspects benefit fraud can call 0800 7311892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in confidence