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Avondale Square woman pleads guilty to benefit fraud

A resident of a housing estate off the Old Kent Road has pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to 13 counts of benefit fraud, illegally claiming more than £72,000 in benefits.

51-year-old Minty Ghosh, who lives on the City of London Corporation's Avondale Square Estate, was convicted of benefit fraud after failing to declare 72,000 in held in undisclosed bank accounts.

The offences took place between 2003 and 2013, with the prosecution presenting evidence revealing fraudulent claims of housing benefit payments, council tax benefit and job seekers allowance.

The defendant is expected to repay the full amount to the City of London Corporation plus interest. She will be sentenced on Friday 7 August.

Ms Ghosh's case was brought to court following an investigation by the City of London Corporation, Southwark Council, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the City of London Police.

Her defence claimed the sum of money was a loan from her mother and therefore didn't belong to her. The capital cap for benefit claimants is 16,000 and is set by the DWP.

Speaking after the guilty plea, Chris Keesing, anti-fraud manager for the City of London Corporation, said: "We are pleased with the outcome which proves that there is no hiding place for people who commit benefit fraud. Once convicted, they can receive a criminal record, a hefty fine and often have their assets seized.

"It is a myth that benefit fraud is a victimless crime. It is public money that could have gone towards helping someone in genuine need or towards funding cash-strapped public services. I would urge anyone who suspects fraud to report it to the authorities."

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Doug Blackwood of the City of London Police said: "This is a large sum of money illegitimately gained over a long period of time. Benefit fraudsters should be under no illusion that you will be prosecuted and put before the courts."

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