Tax credit worker spared jail after £19,000 fraud
A former tax credit expert who used her knowledge to fiddle nearly £19,000 for herself has been spared spending Christmas behind bars.
Mother-of-three Tracey Griffiths was shown mercy for the sake of her children by Judge Peter Cooke who gave her a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 180 hours of unpaid work.
The shamed 37-year-old, now living in Newbury Road, Wordsley, denied the offence but was convicted last month after a Wolverhampton Crown Court trial during which the jury heard how she and her husband had been on seven holidays during the fraud.
She pocketed the money over two years by claiming the pair were no longer a couple when they were still living together as man and wife. They are now living apart.
Griffiths had been remanded on bail for pre-sentence reports until yesterday when Judge Cooke, now sitting at Warwick Crown Court, told the former tax office worker: "Thorough protracted dishonesty and an inside knowledge of the tax credit system, you inflated your household income to the tune of £18,147.49 by fraud.
"A large chunk of the surplus was spent on foreign holidays, with trips to Tenerife and Paphos and all around Europe."
But he suspended the jail term on the defendant, who had no previous convictions, because locking her up would have had a 'significant adverse impact' on the two children still in her care.
Griffiths claimed to have separated from husband Stewart in February 2014 and made her application for tax credit in that month while the couple lived together in Barnet Close, Kingswinford, the court heard.
The duo put a post on social media celebrating their first wedding anniversary in the same year while their finances ran in tandem with bills such as the mortgage being paid by the husband, the court heard.
He also bought her a car and picked up the £3,000 bill for her cosmetic surgery.
She had worked for Revenue and Customs(HMRC) since 2002 and was employed at an office in Wolverhampton.
Adrian De Ath, Assistant Director, Internal Governance, HMRC, said: "This was a gross breach of trust.
"Griffiths exploited her position and used her detailed knowledge of the tax credits system to claim money she knew she was not entitled to. We will now work hard to recover the proceeds of her crime."
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.