Holloway benefits cheat caught with �80k in the bank

A MOTHER who claimed �12,000 in housing and council tax benefits over four years while concealing �80,000 in a joint bank account has been ordered to pay the money back and do 140 hours of community service.

Siobhan Billings, of Docura House, on the Andover Estate, Holloway, was sentenced to a one year community order at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to eight offences of benefit fraud. She was also ordered to pay a contribution of �200 to prosecution costs.

Between November 2004 to September 2008, 50-year-old Billings had claimed from Islington Council as a single parent on the basis of her income from employment, but an investigation by the council’s benefit team found evidence that her husband had been living with her throughout this period and had been running a removals business from her address.

Councillor James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “With the government cuts hitting Islington harder than most, it is vital that benefits are targeted at need not greed.

“The sheer audacity of this deceit beggars belief. But the prosecution gives a clear message that benefit fraud is not a victimless crime and will not be tolerated.

“We will go to whatever lengths necessary to claw back money for those who really deserve it.”

The fraud came to light after a data matching exercise had revealed the existence of a joint bank account in the names of Billings and her husband. Her name had been added to the account in 2004 and the account balance had at times reached �80,000.

Most Read

The money in the account had never been declared in connection with her benefit claim, even when Billings had been specifically asked by the council’s housing benefit service to provide copy bank statements for all accounts in her name.

The Islington Council investigation also revealed that Billings and her husband had enjoyed family holidays abroad as the fraud continued.

Billings will have to repay housing benefit totalling �10,790.91 and council tax benefit totalling �1,609.61, which she received as a result of her fraudulent benefit claim.