Benefit 'liars' in court; SENTENCED: Suspended jail terms for pair who made false statements to claim thousands.
TWO benefits cheats who swindled the system out of nearly pounds 28,000 between them have been given suspended jail terms by Coventry magistrates.
The sentences have been welcomed by Coventry City Council which says it hopes they send out a powerful message to others.
Thirty-seven-year-old Sharnjit Singh, of Newfield Road, Foleshill, Coventry, was overpaid pounds 17,988 between February 2005 and December 2007, after he failed to declare on a housing benefit form he was related to his landlord.
And 54-year-old Aklasun Nessa, of Burlington Road, Stoke, Coventry, also failed to mention she was related to her landlord on a housing benefit form. She was overpaid pounds 9,823 between April 2005 and December 2006.
The two appeared before the court in separate cases.
Each of them pleaded guilty to dishonestly making a false statement.
Singh was given a 16-week custodial sentence suspended for 18 months, plus a supervision order for 12 months.
Nessa was given a 16-week custodial sentence suspended for 18 months, plus a supervision order for 18 months.
Each of them was ordered to pay pounds 150 costs.
The court heard Nessa was given several opportunities to confirm her relationship with her landlord, but gave several different accounts of how she knew him.
Singh even provided a false tenancy agreement to support his benefit claim, the court was told.
Deputy leader of the city council Cllr Kevin Foster said: "The council will not tolerate people who pretend to be in need in order to steal taxpayers' money, and will prosecute those who do so.
"These two dishonest people have been found guilty of lying in order to get their hands on thousands of pounds they were not entitled to.
"I therefore welcome these sentences as a message to others who may be tempted to lie in order to cheat the benefit system."
The sentences come at a time when the city council and the Department for Work and Pensions have joined forces in a new campaign to target benefits cheats who are living together but not declaring it.
Anyone who wants to report suspected fraud can phone the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 or Coventry Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 1116977.