A Crawley couple who doctored their bank statements to hide their earnings while claiming benefits have been found guilty of two charges each under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.
Gregers and Amanda Young, of Rushetts Road, Langley Green, were each handed a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years at Hove Crown Court.
The court heard they had produced false bank statements during the course of a Crawley Borough Council investigation.
The council had reason to believe both defendants were working as team leaders for Avon Cosmetics and had failed to declare such income in support of benefit and housing applications.
Mr and Mrs Young were both invited to an interview under caution at the council. At the interview they provided prepared statements stating they had not made any false statements and provided bank statements in support of this.
The documents supplied by both Mr and Mrs Young were falsified records, the court heard. They were deliberately calculated to confound the investigators and to obstruct the criminal justice process, said the council.
The council’s investigators obtained authentic copies of bank documents. Comparing the original and the fake documents it became clear that a number of payments and transactions from Avon Cosmetics had been removed from the copies supplied by the defendants.
In his sentencing, Judge Charles Kemp said: “You both produced false instruments which you knew to be false. This is an extremely serious case. During the course of criminal investigations you dishonestly doctored bank statements by deleting references to Avon. You persisted in the deception and when shown the fraud you offered no explanation other than a printer malfunction.
“These offences pass the custody threshold and is likened to perverting the course of justice. I have a family dilemma due to your five children and what would happen to them and the cost to the state for social services to look after them.”
Gregers and Amanda Young each received a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years. In addition, Mr Young received a 100-hour work order. Costs of £1,000 were awarded to Crawley Borough Council.
They have also been removed from the council’s Housing Register.
Crawley Borough Council leader Peter Lamb said after the hearing: “Our Fraud Investigation Team works to tackle all types of fraud and criminal activity that affect the council and residents of Crawley.
“The welfare system provides a lifeline for those in need, but the small numbers who try to abuse the system put that support at risk
“This case should act as a warning to anyone who thinks they can falsify documents to try and derail a criminal investigation.”
Anyone who thinks they know someone who is committing tenancy fraud or any other type of fraud can call the council free and in confidence 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org