A fraudster who swindled more than £30,000 in benefits for a crushing disability has been caught after a picture emerged of the scammer horse riding.
Michelle Hanney, 51, feigned a condition that meant she needed a wheelchair to go outside, claiming she could only walk between 20 and 50 metres.
She was awarded both Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit totalling £33,711.24 between May 2021 and August last year.
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Investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) became suspicious when they spotted a Facebook picture of Hanney riding a horse and walking without any aids.
A follow-up surveillance operation captured the benefits cheat walking freely alongside a pony at the stables.
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Hanney, from Rotherham, South Yorks, has been sentenced to a 12-month community order after pleading guilty to fraudulent activity at Sheffield Magistrates Court.
She was prosecuted on the lesser amount of £10,384, which the DWP say it will now try to recoup, but the overpayment still stands at £33,711.24.
Tom Pursglove MP, the minister responsible for tackling fraud, highlighted that Hanney’s case is a prime example of how the government was cracking down on benefit cheats.
He said: "The vast majority of disability benefit claims are correct, and we know the difference that these benefits can make to people.
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"However, there is a small minority of people out to cheat the system. This conviction is another example of our relentless focus on finding those taking the taxpayer for a ride and bringing them to justice."
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Ministers have poured a staggering £900million into fighting fraud over the past three years.
Speaking to the Sun, Welfare Secretary Mel Stride said: “If people are going to abuse our benefits system, we will catch up with them and we will deal with them.
“So the message is don’t do it, because we will find you. It’s as simple as that.”
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