A BENEFIT cheat has avoided an immediate prison sentence after she claimed nearly £30,000 in housing benefits when she pretended her partner was her landlord.
Rubina Bariwala, aged 34, fraudulently duped Bolton Council for more than three years when she claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit.
She also wrongly claimed income support for more two months as she said she was a single parent.
Bariwala claimed £28,000 before her crimes were uncovered.
Bolton Council’s and the Department for Work and Pensions discovered her alleged landlord Imran Selot, aged 32, was the father of her children and lived with her and their two youngsters in their home in Deane Church Lane, Deane.
Selot provided false details for the tenancy agreement and claimed he lived in Preston.
No one was suspicious because the couple had different surnames.
But the alarm was raised when their second child was born and he had the same name as Selot, Bariwala’s alleged landlord.
She admitted a catalogue of charges relating to dishonestly claiming support for her benefit and was sentenced to a six month jail term, suspended for two years.
She does not have to repay the money but she was ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
Selot, who pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Bariwala to make a false declaration on a housing benefit and council tax benefit change of address form, was given a community order with a four month curfew from 6pm to 6am.
Both were both ordered to pay £900 costs and an £80 victim surcharge at Bolton Magistrates Court.
The defendants each have to repay £10 per week. They will also repay Bolton Council for taking benefits fraudulently. They money will be paid monthly and was agreed out of court.
They have both since married.
A council spokesman said: “We are committed to protecting public funds and bringing benefit cheats to justice.
“While most benefit claimants are honest, there are unfortunately some who abuse the system. People pretending to live alone to get benefits is one of the most common types of benefit fraud.
“This particular case was a bit unusual as the claimant’s partner actually turned out to be her landlord.
“But what this case shows is that not only will we prosecute fraudulent claimants but we will go after landlords as well if we suspect that they are defrauding the system.”
People can report benefit fraud suspects by calling the benefit fraud team on 01204 333800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org