Two women sentenced after swindling £24,000 from Islington Council

The two women conned £24,000 out of Islington Council

The two women conned £24,000 out of Islington Council - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Two benefit cheats who swindled £24,000 out of taxpayers’ pockets have been spared jail – but will have to pay the cash back.

Vanessa Vernon, 25, claimed more than £7,500 in housing benefit and council tax while receiving a student loan and working for a series of designer stores.

Investigators found Vernon, living at the time in St Pauls Road, Highbury, was a full-time student at City University and was also doing undeclared work at shoe houses Christian Louboutin and Kurt Geiger, as well as department store Harrods.

She was handed a sentence of 260 hours community service and will have to pay £200 in court costs, as well as paying the cash back.

Meanwhile Spasenka Zivkovska, 44, continued to claim benefits from Islington Council to the tune of more than £16,000, despite moving in 2010 from her home on the Hilldrop Estate, in Holloway, to Portsmouth.

When a routine visit from the benefit’s team showed she no longer lived in the borough, she told officers she had phoned them on several occasions to try to stop the payments.

After checking records, the town hall said she hadn’t made the calls and took her to court, where she was given a suspended six week jail sentence, given 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to repay the cash plus £100 court costs.

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Mike Curtis, Islington Council’s corporate director for finance and resources said: “Our anti-fraud measures are sophisticated and we are ever vigilant for attempts to swindle the council. Housing benefit fraud is crime. Our message to perpetrators is simple – ‘you will be caught’.”

Vernon, of Claremont Road, Hackeny, pleaded guilty to one count of dishonestly making a false statement and five counts of dishonestly failing to advise changes to her circumstances at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on February 7.

Zivkovska, of Holly Park Estate, Crouch Hill, was sentenced at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on February 5 after she had previously pleaded guilty to failing to notify a change in circumstance relating to housing benefit.