A benefitS cheat mum-of-seven who fraudulently claimed nearly £100,000 has been named and shamed on a national television programme.
A BBC programme ‘Saints and Scroungers’ broadcast earlier this week spoke to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) fraud unit and Hyndburn council staff about the case of Cleo Embley.
Embley, formerly of Bridge Street, Rishton, was jailed in February this year after illegally receiving £94,000 in benefits between 2008 and 2012 and running into serious rent arrears owed to Hyndburn Homes.
She was jailed at Burnley Crown Court after being overpaid the sum in income support, council tax and housing benefits from Hyndburn council and the DWP over the four-year period.
Embley was claiming £75 per week housing benefit and receiving income support on the grounds she lived alone with her seven children and was unable to work because of their needs. However, a four-week surveillance operation carried out by the DWP confirmed she was living with her partner and father of all seven children, who was in employment.
Roy Paul, unit fraud investigator at the DWP, revealed how Embley’s fraudulent behaviour was discovered after an anonymous tip-off to their benefit fraud hotline in September 2011.
He told the programme: “We did the usual background intelligence checks using social security fraud act powers to look at bank account statements and checking with local authority records, schools and birth certificates.
“In order for us to confirm for sure she had a partner living with her we conducted a period of surveillance.
“During that time we saw her partner leaving the house morning and night time and also coming back to the house after a shopping trip. They were behaving as a married couple would and he was going out to work.”
Mr Paul said that when she was arrested she told officers that her partner was living in the caravan outside.
However, Mr Paul said: “This was news to us as we videoed the caravan and it was quite obviously not used for sleeping in and was used more like a children’s den. Her partner subsequently gave us a witness statement saying he had lived with his partner for 15 years and had seven children together.”
Neil Osliffe, of Hyndburn council’s fraud manager, said the £94,000 payment was a ‘massive loss to the public purse’ and the money ‘is being recovered’ slowly.
Embley was jailed for 22 weeks in February this year after pleading guilty to failing to notify of changes affecting her entitlement to income support, council tax benefit and housing benefit.