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Benefit cheat prosecuted after being filmed at dog show

benefit fraud costs over a £1 billion a year
© BBC

A disability benefit cheat was busted after investigators spotted her at Crufts dog show.

By Ashley Murphy Published on 24 Mar 2019

Linda Avery, 57, from Plymouth, had been claiming the highest amount of disability living allowance. She claimed she couldn't cook her own food, had difficulty communicating with people, and required constant care.

But the Department for Work and Pensions became suspicious after staff spotted a Facebook picture of Avery at the world-famous Crufts dog show.

Caught on camera

In August 2016, fraud investigators filmed Avery at the Paignton dog show. Footage shows her lifting a dog off a raised platform and then running alongside the animal.

While the judge agreed that some of her claims had been genuine, he said there was overwhelming evidence that her circumstances had changed.

He ordered the defendant to repay £12,000 of fraudulently claimed benefits. She was also given a 12-month community order.

A repayment schedule will be set during a proceeds of crime hearing later this year.

The Department of Work and Pensions were keen to stress that the vast majority of claims are genuine. A spokesperson said:

"Only a small minority of people claiming benefits are dishonest...Cases like this show how we are catching those who cheat the system and divert taxpayers' money from the people who need it.”

Serious consequences

Government figures show that benefit fraud costs the UK taxpayer around £1.7 billion every year. And while this accounts for just over 1% of all welfare payments, it's still a huge amount of money.

If you suspect someone is committing benefit fraud, you can make an anonymous report to the Department of Work and Pensions fraud prevention team. Details can found at the gov.uk website.

Anyone prosecuted for benefit fraud can face up to 7 years in jail, as well as unlimited fines or court costs.