A mother of two has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after it was discovered that she had invented six children in order to claim £43,000 in Child Benefits.
Angela Callaghan, 42 and from Liverpool, claimed she was looking after eight children, including two twins of her sister’s and one for her teenage daughter’s. However, six did not exist. She also failed to declare that her daughter had left education. She managed to fool HMRC for three years until being caught.
Callaghan, who was unable to get a job, also helped other mothers in her area to commit the same act and received a cut of around £700 from each. Three other mothers who took part in the fraud — illegally claiming between £2500 and £4000 — were given suspended sentences. Angela Callaghan received 12 months prison time.
Conservative MP Priti Patel said:[quote]This is an appalling example of flagrant abuse of the benefits system. Hard-pressed taxpayers are sick and tired of hearing of such abuse and this case shows exactly why we need sanctions and tough sentences for individuals who break the system.[/quote]
Priti Patel has, however, been a controversial figure in the party because of her pro-capital punishment stance. Her party has also yet to punish many of the British bankers involved in alleged criminality that caused the financial collapse, which has caused far more impact on the UK economy than benefit fraud which comes to over £500 million a year.
Neighbours of Angela Callaghan, who had already once been given a community sentence for benefit fraud in 2008, said she had spent a lot of money on her home. They said that her property in Bootle had been refurbished with a new patio and iron gates.
Callaghan pleaded not to be imprisoned because she has a four year old son. However, the judge handed her a 12 month sentence regardless. The custody will now pass to her 21 year old daughter.
Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said:[quote]The process of reporting changes of circumstances is designed to be simple for the customer and the system relies very much on the honesty of the person notifying the change.[/quote]
HM Revenue And Customs claims the case demonstrates the department’s ability to prevent fraud when it occurs. A spokesperson for them said:[quote]We check all the information provided for a tax credits claim and constantly evolve these checks to ensure they remain effective. As this case shows, we do detect fraud and we do stop it.[/quote]