A BENEFIT cheat who sold a second property in London to buy a holiday home in Spain has been jailed for a year.
Janice Purdie pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming £134,187.38 in benefits over a nine-year period from 2004 to 2013.
Hove Crown Court heard how Purdie, of Shoreham Road, Hove, claimed £83,113.95 in housing benefit despite owning a second property in Camden, London.
Because the 62-year-old did not declare her property assets, she also received overpayments of £39,541.71 for income support and £3,319.17 in pension credit.
Purdie also claimed £8,212.55 in council tax benefit despite having over £16,000 in her bank account.
The court heard how Purdie sold her property in London for almost £600,000 and then used this money to help buy a property in Spain.
When questioned in October 2013, Purdie told government officials she had been visiting friends in Spain and refused to comment on owning a property in London.
Judge Paul Tain said: “This is a serious case of fraud that has gone on for many years and involves large amounts of money.
“The maximum sentence for this crime is ten years which highlights the seriousness of the situation.”
The defence for Purdie stated she had been in a physically and mentally abusive relationship and was left with £100,000 in gambling debts from her ex-partner.
Commenting on Purdie’s character references, Judge Tain said: “One of these references states that you are an honest person. You clearly are not.
“This reference talks about your generosity but it is easy to be generous with somebody else’s money.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said that in all cases they look to get back the money they are owed.
Purdie plans to sell her property in Spain to pay back the money she fraudulently claimed.
The investigation which led to this case was launched after an allegation of undeclared capital and property was made by a member of the public.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s senior investigator, Penny Wood, said: “The public is increasingly aware of the strain on the public purse and are more willing than ever to report people who are abusing the system.
“This is a prime example of somebody blatantly abusing the system despite having accrued assets that many people struggle to attain over a lifetime.”