A Jamaican woman from south London has used a fake passport to illegally claim £57,000 in benefits.
30-year-old Sabrina Thompson who previously lived in Addiscombe, Croydon, entered the UK back in 2002 on a six-month visitor permit, Croydon crown court heard.
Her stay was extended to October 2004 so she could attend college, but she remained in the UK illegally.
Croydon council’s corporate anti-fraud team were given an anonymous tip off in March 2008 following Thompson’s application for housing and council tax benefit using a British passport.
It was soon discovered that the passport was fake and it was seized and destroyed.
Thompson was also working for the fast food chain McDonalds without employment permission.
From 2008, she gained housing and council tax benefits illegally over a five-year period, amounting to £57,490.80.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice, said: “Two serious offences – fraud and using the false passport – allied to the facts she shouldn’t have been in the country, not working while here, have cost this woman her good name and landed her with a criminal record.
“The diligent work of the council’s anti-fraud team has brought an end to her offences and stopped her taking money from the public purse, where it is used to help those with a legitimate claim for the benefits she accrued, by blatantly breaking the law.”
Thompson was given a 10-month custodial sentence, to be suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £500 in costs and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
She avoided jail after pleading guilty to fraud and using a fake passport.
Thompson has also been allowed to stay in the UK as she has a British partner and children here.
Recorder Andrew Burns, QC, said at court that the offences were serious and a custodial sentence was appropriate, however in response to her guilty plea and good character he suspended the sentence.