A NEW data matching service used by a council has uncovered a serious case of fraud by a woman who claimed more than £2,000 of benefit she was not entitled to.

It was the first case of its kind to be discovered through a data matching exercise conducted by Richmondshire District Council's fraud provider, Veritau Ltd.

It compared records from multiple sources and revealed that a second individual was linked to a property which had been declared as being occupied by a sole adult.

Elaine Smith, 63, of Stuart Avenue, Richmond, claimed Single Person Discount at her property for six years, in her daughter’s name. An investigation into the discount showed it was in her daughter’s name, but she was paying the council tax bill.

Ms Smith admitted to have been living there for around five years, while still claiming Single Person Discount in her daughter’s name and purporting to be living in another area of the country.

As a result she received a discount of £2,177.99 on her council tax bill that she was not entitled to.

Ms Smith pleading guilty to all charges at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court on Monday, July 30. She was sentenced to pay a fine of £272. She was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and court costs of £395, totalling £697.

Councillor Geoffrey Linehan, Chair of the Council’s Audit, Governance and Standards Committee, said: “Fraud against Richmondshire District Council deprives council services, which support our entire community, of much needed funding. We are now employing new and innovative techniques to identify where fraud is occurring and we won’t hesitate to take strong action where appropriate. We encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the fraud hotline on 0800 9179 247 or email counter.fraud@york.gov.uk.”