The ringleader of a group of benefit fraudsters, involved in fraudulently claiming more than £55,000 in tax credits and child benefit, was jailed today for 12 months.
Angela Callaghan, 42, from Bootle, with three other Liverpool women, fraudulently claimed the tax credits and child benefit by lying about their family status and inventing children.
The court heard how Callaghan lied about her real daughter still being in full-time education, added six fake children to her claims and helped other mums to make false tax credit claims for nonexistent offspring. She received payments of up to £700 from each mother she helped make bogus claims.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators discovered that, from 2009 until her arrest in 2012, Callaghan had been paid by the other women to help them increase their tax credits by adding fake twins to their claims.
The three other mums, Nicola Brown, 34, Maria McDermott, 31, and Lisa Keightley, 28, all from Liverpool, were given suspended jail sentences on 6 June.
Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“Callaghan lied on numerous occasions to receive benefits she wasn’t entitled to, pocketing money needed to fund public services. She then went on to help others make fraudulent claims. All these mothers now have criminal records and have to repay the stolen money.
“We recognise it is only a minority that are exploiting the system but we would encourage anyone with information on tax credit fraud to call the Benefits Anti-Fraud Helpline in total confidence on 0800 854 440.”
Notes for editors
1. Details of sentencing on 16 June 2014 at Liverpool Crown Court:
- Angela Callaghan, DOB 08/05/72, of Parkfield Avenue, Bootle, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud under the Tax Credits Act 2002, for the fake children, and one count under the Fraud Act 2006 for claiming child benefit for a genuine child no longer in full-time education. Callaghan was sentenced to 12 months jail. Callaghan claimed overpayments of £42,925 for tax credits and £2,577 for child benefit between 2009 and 2012. She invented six fake children called Jordan, David, Lucy, Alex, Zach and Layla.
2. Details of sentencing on 6 June 2014 at the same court:
- Nicola Dorothy Helen Brown, DOB 19/07/79, of Esmond Street, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to benefit fraud under the Tax Credits Act 2002. She claimed overpayments of £4,151, between 2010 and 2012, for tax credits in respect of fake twins she named Jessica and Morgan. Brown was sentenced to two months jail suspended for 12 months, plus a supervision order for 12 months.
- Maria Leeane McDermott, DOB 26/03/83, of Radstock Road, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to benefit fraud under the Tax Credits Act 2002. She claimed £2,956 overpayments, between 2010 and 2011, for tax credits in respect of fake twins she named Thomas and Holly. McDermott was sentenced to two months jail suspended for 12 months, plus a supervision order for 12 months.
- Lisa Keightley, DOB 17/01/86, of Cullen Street, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to benefit fraud under the Tax Credits Act 2002. She claimed £2,502 overpayments, between 2010 and 2012, for tax credits in respect of fake twins she named Lois and Jack. Keightley was sentenced to two months jail suspended for 12 months, plus a supervision order for 12 months.
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.