Ten month jail term for £76k benefit fraud woman

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A woman who fraudulently claimed over £75,000 in benefits has been jailed for ten months.

Surina Vig, whose address was given on court papers as Waterfoot Park, pleaded guilty to six charges of making a false declaration to obtain benefits.

Derry Crown Court heard that the 40-year-old fraudulently claimed housing benefit and income spport between October 17, 2003 and July 5, 2010.

It was revealed Vig fraudulently claimed over £76,000 - £37,109.92 in income support and £39,340 in housing benefit.

She has only repaid £75 of the amount.

The court heard that Vig sold her home to her partner and declared he was a landlord. She failed to declare he was living with her and their child.

The 40-year-old also worked as a street trader and obtained a number of licences from the council to do this while claiming benefits.

Vig was interviewed under caution and admitted the offences.

A prosecutor told the court it was not the crown case that this was a “carefully organised fraud”.

He also accepted that there is “no indication the money was used for luxuries”.

Defence counsel Eoghan Devlin said his client knows the “custody threshold has been passed”.

He added: “The court will be short of sympathy when it looks at the amount, particularly in current times when the public purse is so straightened”.

The barrister handed in a reference to the court on behalf of the 40-year-old which he revealed was from an MLA.

Mr Devlin told the court Vig is “terrified at the prospect of an immediate custodial sentence” but knows it is inevitable.

However, he argued that the “justice of the case could be met without a custodial sentence”.