A BENEFIT fraudster claiming limited mobility was caught on camera walking dogs, loading shopping and even lifting an exercise bike.
Angela Gregg, 50, initially lodged legitimate claims for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
When applying for financial assistance, Gregg stated she could walk only “20 to 30 metres” at a time, required walking aids, needed help with daily care – including bathing – and had trouble lifting objects. She had to to disclose any improvement in her movements.
But Gregg, of Milton Street, Penrith, was caught out in November, 2018, when suspicious Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators carried out covert video observations in her home town during a 10-day period.
She could be seen regularly walking two medium sized dogs on leads for 30-45 minutes at a time, lifting a toddler into a car and getting in and out of a mobility vehicle without assistance. “She was walking up and down a long staircase without difficulty,” prosecutor Rachel Faux told Carlisle Crown Court today (FRI), “carrying and loading shopping and carrying an exercise bike to her front garden.”
When interviewed, Gregg told DWP staff she had “good days and bad days”, and, said Miss Faux, that “she was able to do certain things by gritting her teeth and getting on with it”.
Gregg admitted fraud by dishonestly failing to disclose information in relation to her PIP claims – that her capabilities had improved several months before the surveillance operation took place.
Having been overpaid £2,524.93, she was sentenced to a 12-month community order and a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
“Monies that are provided by the government from legitimate taxation are to be used and diverted to those who need it,” Judge Nicholas Barker told her. “Therefore, anyone who is a fraud upon this system is taking monies away from those who really need it – and you were doing just that.”
A DWP spokesman said after the hearing: “In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, people must pay back all the money they falsely obtained.
“We have zero tolerance of anyone fraudulently claiming benefits and will take swift action to investigate, supporting our partners and prosecutors to bring them to justice.”