Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Hollywood Make-Up Artist To The Stars Makes Up Benefits Claim

A woman who had claimed to have been a make-up artist for Hollywood celebrities and top music artists such as Keira Knightley, Brad Pitt and Girls Aloud has been ordered to wear an electronic tag for the next 12 weeks.

Louise Page, 40, of Jubilee End, Steeple Morden, admitted five counts of making false statements to obtain benefits at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court today (Monday 2 December).

When making her claims for benefit she failed to mention that she was in receipt of a private pension, that her husband was living with her and that he owned a property.

South Cambridgeshire District Council investigators uncovered the pension through the National Fraud Initiative – a data-matching exercise which has identified £1 billion in fraud and error nationally since 1996.

During the investigation into the claim further evidence was found suggesting that despite Mrs Page claiming to be a single parent her husband was also living in the property.

Domestic waste was reported by a local resident to have been dumped in the bins at Steeple Morden Village Hall which included printed copies of emails between Mrs Page and her husband.

Council fraud investigators were then able to retrieve further emails between the two from the husband’s employer which indicated that they were still in a relationship.

Due to the fraudulent claims between June 2009 and July 2012, Mrs Page had been overpaid £13,388.57 in housing and council tax benefits which is already being recovered.

Mrs Page had previously denied the offences but changed her plea on the day of her trial. She was handed a curfew order by Magistrates which requires her to wear an electronic tag and stay at her home between 7pm to 7am for the next 12 weeks.

She was also ordered to pay £900 in costs to the Council.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “Mrs Page’s Christmas plans will now be on hold as she will need to be at home by 7pm each day. This case shows that fraud doesn’t pay and anyone trying to cheat the system in South Cambridgeshire will be caught and brought to book. Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime as it takes money away from providing services in the area and denies the vast majority who are honest and hard working.”

Cllr Cicely Murfitt, South Cambridgeshire District Council local member for Steeple Morden, said: “Benefit fraud means cheating on your neighbours some of whom may have difficulty paying their own Council Tax. The neighbours of Mrs Page will be shocked to find such substantial fraud has been going on behind their backs. I am very pleased this long and complex investigation has come to a successful conclusion.”

Suspected fraud can be reported through South Cambridgeshire District Council’s hotline on 0800 7311892 or by email on benefitfraud@scambs.gov.uk. Reports can be anonymously.