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North Weald woman jailed for benefit fraud

Communities / Tue 19th May 2015 at 10:48am

A WOMAN from North Weald has been handed a 16 month prison sentence for 12 counts of benefit fraud.

The fraud lead to her being paid £48,176.70 from Epping Forest District Council and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) which she was not entitled to. Half of the sentence will be served in prison with the remainder on licence.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on 5 May 2015, Nadine Pirincci of North Weald, pleaded guilty to

7 offences relating to making false statements

4 offences of failing to notify of a change in circumstances

1 offence of producing or furnishing a false document to dishonestly claim benefits

Ms Pirincci had originally pleaded not guilty at Colchester Magistrates Court in August 2014 but due to the number of offences and amount of money involved the Magistrates referred to the Crown Court.

A jury trial was set to take place but Ms Pirincci changed her plea to guilty on the first day. Nadine Pirincci began claiming benefits in 2009 and told Epping Forest District Council and the DWP that she owned a property in Forest Gate. As she said the property was up for sale and provided documentation appearing to confirm this property was temporarily disregarded for benefit purposes as allowed for in the benefit regulations. When her claim was later reviewed she stated she no longer owned any property.

After carrying out some investigations the council discovered that the property in Forest Gate was taken off the market before Ms Pirincci claimed benefit, that she let it out throughout the period of her benefit claim and owned over £86,000 of equity in the property. Investigators also discovered that during her benefit claim Ms Pirincci received a divorce settlement of £67,000 which she concealed in her children’s bank accounts. In total Ms Pririncci held over £80,000 in undeclared bank accounts.

She was also paid for work which she did not declare and received a number of cash payments which she could not explain. The benefits obtained by Nadine Pirincci included Housing benefit and Council Tax benefit from Epping Forest District Council as well as income support and job seekers allowance from the DWP, amounting to £48,176.70 between 2009 and 2013. Ms Pirincci paid back the benefits she was not entitled to when her deceit was discovered and prosecution proceedings were commenced.

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio holder at Epping Forest District Council said: “This is a blatant case of someone meaning to cheat the system. The defendant deliberately set out to deceive the council and the DWP from the beginning and continued to dishonestly claim benefits which she knew she was not entitled to, at the expense of the tax payer.

“I am pleased the judge took a strong stance and awarded a tough sentence. I hope it will act as a deterrent to others and makes it clear that benefit fraud cannot be tolerated.”

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