A BENEFITS fraudster who illegally claimed nearly £30,000 in benefits while earning £1,000 a week has escaped being locked up.
Alan Green, a power station worker, of Bank View, Whiston, Rotherham, received a nine-month jail term, suspended for two years, at a sentencing hearing at Sheffield Crown Court.
Green was also given a six-month night-time curfew and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.
He pleaded guilty to illegally claiming £10,413.67 in housing benefit, £3,343.50 in council tax benefit and £14,489.51 in pension credit for more than a decade, between April 2000 and October 2010.
He had originally told council officers and the Department for Work and Pensions he was unemployed.
But when investigators looked into an anonymous tip-off they found he had been working throughout the period of his claim, earning at some points more than £1,000 a week.
Green pleaded guilty to a total of 17 charges relating to failing to declare a change in his circumstances and of submitting false benefits claims.
His defence barrister Sheila Whitehead said her client was seriously ill and had suffered from continuing bouts of depression.
She said he no longer had the money but did not live an extravagant lifestyle and was on limited benefits income.
After the hearing, Coun Jahangir Akhtar, deputy leader of Rotherham Council, said the case was a warning to anyone considering defrauding the benefits system.
He said: “With the current economic climate it is even more important we maintain our guard against fraud because the behaviour of a small group of people will result in law-abiding citizens shouldering the losses that they can ill-afford.
“Tackling fraud makes it fair for all and so the authority is determined to prevent and eliminate fraud and corruption by using every means it can.
“One pound lost to fraud means one pound less for public services, which is absolutely crucial at the moment.”