Kenley benefit cheat jailed for £30,000 scam
A HOLIDAY-LOVING gran whose elaborate benefit fraud involved a £15,000 Greek wedding has been jailed for six months.
Theresa Aldous, 62, of Godstone Road, Kenley, lied to authorities to claim widow's benefits despite having remarried, as well as housing benefits on a council house she didn't live in.
Croydon Crown Court was told last week that, despite marrying Richard Martin in Crete in 2002 and moving to his Caterham home, Aldous continued to claim widow's benefit and housing benefit on a Croydon Council house – netting about £30,000.
She failed to tell the council that she had moved out of the house, and instead continued to claim benefits while letting her daughter live there rent-free.
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When quizzed by council fraud investigators, she said she was not married and that Mr Martin was a friend of the family.
Later, when a marriage certificate was produced by the Greek authorities, she changed her story, claiming the wedding was a sham and not legal in the UK.
The investigation, however, was able to prove that she knew her marriage was legal and that she had booked a £15,000 wedding package from a UK travel agency.
She had also declared herself to be Mr Martin's wife and next-of-kin when he died in 2006, receiving £43,000 from his estate and his work pension, which she paid into a bank account using her married name.
Aldous claimed she had spent the money on paying off debts and had given some away to her children to buy cars, holidays and other luxuries.
Jailing Aldous for six months, Judge Ruth Downing said the message was that the court treated such offences seriously.
She said Aldous had "lied and lied" and had shown a complete lack of remorse for her crimes.
Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for finance, said: "I hope this serves as a warning to other benefit cheats – we can and will prosecute you, and you could go to jail for your crimes.
"Croydon Council works to ensure benefits are paid to those who really need them and not to those who see the system as a lifestyle choice."