A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph. For many people a 30-month prison sentence wouldn’t be a deterrent against stealing £275,000 from taxpayers, it would be an incentive. There’s nothing in the report about the woman having to pay back so much as a penny of the money she stole.
Lucy Parker claimed the money between April 2012 and August 2018 and used it to pay for private school fees and holidays to Japan
A council worker used 19 fake identities to falsely claim £275,000 in benefits to send her children to private school and take holidays to Japan, a court has heard.
Lucy Parker, who worked in social care at Warwickshire County Council, committed fraud offences across a six-year period in which she forged documents and falsely claimed multiple benefits.
Ms Parker, 56, from Barby, lived “a comfortable middle-class lifestyle”, Warwick Crown Court heard, and used the money to cover her children’s school fees and for holidays which saw her visit Japan and South Africa.
She kept up her elaborate schemes by obtaining a number of real birth and marriage certificates, forging letters from hospitals, and using burner phones for different personas so she could be contacted in their names.
Many of the identities she used were those of people who she knew had moved abroad, so they would be less likely to have any existing contact with doctors or agencies in Britain.
Ms Parker had claimed a total of £274,900 between April 2012 and August 2018, the court was told.
During this time, she worked as an administrator at Warwick University, and then as part of Warwickshire Council’s social care team.
Forged GP documents showed a record of hysterectomies and knee operations, which allowed Ms Parker to fraudulently claim Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit.
But she was caught out when a worker at a job centre noticed that she had made claims using two different aliases, and she was arrested in 2018.
Ms Parker had posed as Louise Clarke for the appointment, but the worker remembered that she had previously been to the centre under another name and tipped off the authorities.
Throughout her six years of false claims, she used names that included Dianne Smith, who was the tenant of a property in Kenilworth which had previously been rented by Ms Parker.
Under Dianne Smith’s account name, she went on to provide numerous addresses – including some derelict buildings – for a number of other presumed identities.
Ms Parker’s home was searched after an eight-month investigation by the Department for Work of Pensions, where a large number of blank, fake documents were found.
A memory stick was also discovered which included false housing agreements and references, while CCTV from a range of banks showed her withdrawing money from accounts that were set up under different pseudonyms.
Ms Parker had initially denied that she had any knowledge of the fraud, and told police that she had rented the house, which was in Tisdale Rise, to one of her friends.
The next day she declined to answer any questions from police, but several months later confessed to all of her crimes in a written statement.
Kevin Hegarty QC, representing Ms Parker, said her family home had been sold after she admitted to her offences.
He told the court that his client’s “focus and devotion” to one of her two sons, who he said has “particular difficulties”, had led her to start committing the offences.
Judge Anthony Potter said Ms Parker “effectively stole money from the public purse” and lived a “very comfortable lifestyle”, owning her home outright with privately-educated children.
“This was not a moment of madness on your part, but sustained criminality over a period not of months but many years,” he said.
“What you did was to make a large number of false claims, and you were paid as a result just shy of £275,000.
“The way you conducted these frauds involved a good deal of thought and planning. It was a highly successful fraud, and it netted you a substantial sum of money.”
Ms Parker, who admitted to nine counts of fraud, and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
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