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Benefit cheat behind bars
Tuesday 8th October, 2013

A local benefits cheat has been imprisoned after fraudulently claiming over £100,000 in benefits.

Sarah Higgins, 48, of Cheltenham Avenue, Lower Ince was found guilty of fraudulently claiming £118,000 at Manchester Crown Court last month (Friday 20 September).

Appearing before the court, Ms Higgins admitted claiming benefits as a single person while living with her partner for the last eleven years, who was in full time employment.

Ms Higgins’ illegal activities came to light after the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) received an anonymous tip off to their benefit fraud hotline. Following a joint investigation between Wigan Council, the DWP and the police, a search of the property took place and numerous pieces of evidence were seized. Ms Higgins was interviewed at Wigan Police station on two occasions and refused to comment at each.

As well as serving her prison sentence, Ms Higgins has been ordered to repay every penny of the overpaid benefit, which includes £84,110.57 in Income Support, £2,761.35 in Job Seekers Allowance, £24,597.03 in Housing Benefit, £6,700.65 in Council Tax Benefit and an £80.00 victim surcharge fee.

Councillor Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for corporate resources and customer services at Wigan Council, said: “There are people in our communities that go to work every day and pay their taxes - yet struggle to just get by. Then there are people like Ms Higgins who fraudulently take what is not theirs. Justice has been served in this case."

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