Tayside and Central Scotland

HMRC worker jailed for £65,000 benefit fraud

Nicola Farningham Image copyright Alan Richardson
Image caption Nicola Farningham has been forced to sell her house to start paying back the money

An HM Revenue and Customs worker who fraudulently claimed £65,000 in benefits has been jailed for five months.

Nicola Farningham claimed she was a single mother but was living with her husband Paul at their Dundee home.

A court was told the mother-of-four had been forced to sell her house to start paying back the money.

Farningham, 39 admitted a charge under the Tax Credits Act committed between 15 May 2005 and 14 July 2014.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard previously that she was employed as a tax credits advisor in HMRC's Dundee call centre, advising the public about child and working tax credits.

Compensation order

Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court that an HMRC investigation was launched in 2014 following a tip-off.

She said: "The investigation into the accused established that she had married Paul Farningham on 7 September 2007 and that they had four children together.

"The accused and Mr Farningham had shared a joint bank account since 2004 and a joint mortgage for their property which they bought together in 2005.

"When she was interviewed the accused said they had not been co-habiting at any stage despite buying a property and having four children."

The court was told that a compensation order of £40,410 to be paid within six months had been agreed.

'Devastating effect'

Kevin Hampton, defending, said: "Subject to the house being sold she will pay more towards the outstanding debt.

"She understands she is in a very difficult position today, given length of time and the amount involved.

"This was not to fund an extravagant lifestyle or excessive spending.

"This money all went towards bills, primarily child care."

"This has had and will have a devastating effect on her."

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael jailed Farningham for 21 weeks and told her: "It's a sad and familiar tale.

"Ultimately though, it's a fraud on public finances."

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