A MARRIED man pretended to be living with his sister to falsely claim more than £68,000 in benefits.
The 69-year-old, who kept the charade up for 15 years, was among seven to be prosecuted by Redditch Borough Council in the last year after failing to declare he was actually living with his wife.
His antics came to light as part of a joint investigation with the Department of Work and Pensions after a member of the public tipped off the council.
He was handed a 12-month daytime curfew as well as being ordered to pay back the amount in full.
The cheat is one of many who have cost the service more than £327,000 in overpaid housing benefits, council tax support and DWP benefits in the last year.
In December alone, 172 cases were referred to the council either by the public, through a data match system, or by a official source – 43 people were found to have committed fraud or errors to do with their benefit entitlements.
In total four people were prosecuted including two people who failed to declare they were living with partners, one person who hid their private pension and another who did not declare they had had capital. A caution was accepted by another resident for undeclared work.
But the number of people being referred to the council was the lowest since June 2011 and the biggest deterrent to stop people from committing fraud was the fear of having their name printed in the local press.
Suspicions of benefit fraud can be reported to the council by visiting www.redditchbc.gov.uk/fraud or calling 01527 534011.