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MY TWISTED SISTERS; EXCLUSIVE FOURTH SISTER DISOWNS FAMILY WHO DROVE FLASH GARS IN pounds 150,000 BENEFITS SCAM They've got 18 children ...and claimed 15 were disabled.


AS a child Danielle Catton looked up to her three older sisters as the perfect role models.

But she has now washed her hands of Kelly, Katrina and Samantha Smith after they were ailed for masterminding a sick pounds 150,000 benefits fraud.

The greedy siblings had falsely claimed off the state after stating that 15 of their 18 children were disabled. In fact, they were in perfect health.

The sisters had pocketed extra Tax Credits and used the cash to splash out on fancy cars and clothes. But they were caught out when police received an anonymous tip-off.

Kelly Smith, 30, of Chelmsley Wood, was ailed for eight months for the fraud while Samantha, 36, of Solihull, was handed a seven-month prison term.

Katrina, 28, and also of Chelmsley Wood, received six months at a sentencing hearing last month.

But the court case has sparked a deep family rift, with mum-of-one Danielle, 26, condemning her crooked siblings.

She said: "I'm embarrassed and ashamed of them and wish I'd shopped them to the cops myself. If I had known what they were up to, I would have picked up the phone and reported them.

"How could they do this when there are so many people out there struggling to make ends meet?

"I am truly disgusted by what they have done."

Danielle has now severed all ties with Katrina, who has six children by three different dads, and mum-of-seven Kelly. But she still speaks occasionally to Samantha, who has five children with the same father.

She said: "I stopped talking to Kelly a few years ago when we had an argument about one of her children. I looked after the baby for a while but she wouldn't give me any cash to help raise him, even though I was struggling financially.

"Eventually, we stopped talking.

"I also ended up having a row with Katrina about eight months ago and that's when our relationship deteriorated.

"I do speak to Sam - 1 believe she was dragged into all of this by the other two."

Danielle, the youngest of five sisters, added: "I really think that Kelly and Katrina had all these children so they could milk the system, which is exactly what they have done.

"I'm not surprised that they did this, but it is out of character for Sam to be involved.

"In court they tried to blame our mother for the way they were. But that is wrong as I turned out OK.

"Our mum tried her best to bring us up as well as she could, but Kelly went off the rails from a young age.

"They must have thought they could get away with this benefit fraud, so I bet they had a real shock when they were caught. I think they spent a lot of the cash on flashy cars among other things.

"Sam was the only one who bothered to buy things for her children, though."

The sisters were arrested in May last year during raids by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as part of Operation Lille. They were among eight benefit cheats who were swopped on by the Government-run department.

Kelly, who had a new convertible Peugoet on her driveway, was found to be falsely claiming pounds 60,107, while Samantha pocketed pounds 50,085 and Katrina stole pounds 39,230.

The operation followed an investigation by HMRC into unrelated false claims for children who either did not exist, who had previously been taken into care or for whom disabilities had been invented.

All three women were sentenced at Warwick Crown Court and confiscation proceedings are still underway to reclaim the cash.

It is understood Katrina was released early from her sentence last week for good behaviour, while Samantha may also taste freedom in the com-k ing days.

A But Danielle added: "I am outraged that they will only served a tiny part of their sen-f tences. For Katrina to be released after just six weeks is a joke and I also understand that Sam will also be out soon. "How can that be called justice? If anything, it screams out to a lot of impressionable young people that crime does pay. "All three should have served the full sentences that they were given. "They will need to be monitored carefully because they could commit the same crimes once again.

"I really don't think I will be able to speak to them again because of what they have done. I want to make it clear that I am nothing like them, and would never try to cheat the system.

"Yes, we do struggle occasionally, like anyone else, but we make ends meet. We're certainly not going to think of ways to earn money that doesn't belong to us."

A total of pounds 266,500 was found to be being falsely claimed by the eight benefit cheats offenders following the sting by HMRC.

Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Investigation, said: "We welcome the outcome of this prosecution, which is tackling the theft of money from the public purse needed to fund public services for the benefit of everyone.

"This will send a clear and firm message to those falsely claiming tax credits, or considering such measures.

"We have robust and effective teams in place to investigate and to ensure this illegal activity is ended.

"Those involved in this form of crime are exploiting their children, particularly those in care, for purely personal gain."

He added: "We recognise it is only a minority that are exploiting the system but would encourage anyone with information relating to tax credit fraud to call the Benefits Anti-Fraud Helpline on 0800 854 440 in total confidence."


SICK SCAM: above, from left, sisters Samantha, Kelly and Katrina Smith. Left, little sister Danielle with Katrina; Katrina with baby and, inset, Kelly gets into karaoke; Samantha poses for the camera
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 18, 2009
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