A BLACK Country man who fiddled nearly £22,000 with his partner in a two-year benefits scam at different addresses in the area has been jailed for a year.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard David Stone, aged 26, and Jade Brown, aged 25, forged documents and repeatedly maintained to the Department of Work and Pensions they were not living together despite having two children - one of whom was born during the fiddle.
The pair, who lived together at addresses in Oldbury and Cradley Heath for a time, claimed housing and council tax benefits, income support and job seekers allowance even though Stone was in regular employment, the court was told.
Now living in Wells Road, Brierley Hill, both admitted benefit fraud and Judge Michael Challinor described their deception as “breathtaking”.
Stone, who had been working as a school caretaker after losing a job in the hotel business when the fraud came to light, was jailed for a year and Brown was given a 12-month jail term suspended for a year. She was also ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work in the community.
Mark Jackson, prosecuting, told the court that in 2008 the couple moved from Harry Price House, Oldbury, to Wales after he secured a job as assistant manager at the Marriott Hotel in Swansea.
The pair, who had started living together two years earlier, continued the fraud when they moved to an address in the area and the scam went on following another job switch when they moved to South Bank Road, Cradley Heath.
Mr Jackson told the court they forged tenancy agreements to give the impression Brown was living alone and in a conversation with benefits staff she stressed she did not know Stone.
At the same time she had shown their newborn daughter to his work colleagues and also bragged on Facebook about them being engaged for years.
She also informed the benefits staff not to worry about state payments covering only £100 of their £150 a week rent because there were no problems making up the shortfall.