Pensioner avoids jail term after £73,000 fraud
A pensioner fiddled £73,000 in benefits by failing to tell officials about a £36,000 legacy which she kept in an offshore bank account.
Julia Carl, aged 64, kept the money in the Isle of Man and carried on claiming income support and pension credit even though the bequest made her ineligible for the means tested benefits.
She did not spend any of her nest egg on herself because she felt she was keeping it safe for her grown-up son, Exeter Crown Court was told.
She also carried on claiming council tax and housing benefits for eleven years until investigators were tipped off by a financial adviser who visited for investment advice.
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Carl, of The Strand, Bideford, admitted three charges of obtaining benefits by deception and was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid community work.
Recorder Mr Andrew Oldland told her: “You were not entitled to this money because you received an inheritance in 1993 and you had what has been called an offshore account.
“It is quite clear the money stayed in that account for many years but there is none left because you have used it to repay a very significant proportion of the money you owe.
“It remained untouched because you were preserving it ultimately for the benefit of your son and that is a very significant factor in the case.
“It seems this does not have the cynical dishonesty which often characterises offences of this nature. There is no evidence of high living and you are a woman of 64, of good character.”
Miss Beth Heaton, prosecuting, said between 1999 and 2011 Carl over-claimed £73,707.20 in income support, pension credit, housing and council tax benefits.
She did not declare she had an offshore bank account in her own name in the Isle of Man which contained £36,000 inherited from her aunt in 1993.
Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Carl never considered the money as her own and felt she was holding it in trust for her son, who was 24 at the time she received the money in 1993.
She did not pass it on and never told him about it because he had problems with substance abuse and she feared he would die if he had access to the cash.
She used the interest to pay off a debt on his school fees and to buy him a second hand car and other daily necessities, but left the money in the account.
Mr Crabb said: “Although this is said to be an offshore account, it was actually with Alliance and Leicester and was in the Isle of Man because someone told her she could get a better rate of interest there.
“It is not as if it was a numbered account in Switzerland. She was still living in the same rented flat in Bideford as she had for 20 years.”