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NHS Nurse And Her Husband Made £30,000 in Benefits ID Scam

A former NHS nurse and her husband created fake sick notes in the names of unsuspecting neighbours to falsely claim £30,000 in benefits.

Jobless couple Amanda Heseltine, 34, and Richard Connell, 45, gathered details of those living near them during door-to-door sales rounds.

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Using forged sick notes, they then claimed income support, employment support allowance, jobseekers allowance and social fund payments in the names of 23 people.

Over a three year period, thousands in taxpayers' cash was then paid into bank accounts set up by the pair - as they frittered money away on partying.

(Amanda Heseltine and Richard Connell made thousands through a benefits identity scam)

Heseltine and Connell, both of Nelson, Lancashire, were both jailed for two years this week after each admitted 23 counts of fraud totalling £30,500 between April 2013 and March 2016.

The couple - who have been together 16 years and have previous convictions for dishonesty - were already receiving state handouts including housing benefit with Connell getting employment support allowance due to a leg injury. Neither will have to pay any money back - because they insist they are broke.

Prosecutor Amanda Johnson said of the 23 people whose details were stolen: 'Their identities were hijacked by the defendants who used them to make fraudulent benefits claims for income support, employment support allowance, jobseekers allowance and social fund payments.

'Applications forms were completed and submitted for different benefits by the defendants, along with doctored or forged medical certificates.

'They made phone calls posing as genuine customers and sent correspondence to the relevant departments. They operated a number of bank accounts into which payments were made.'

She said the victims all knew the couple 'personally or indirectly' but didn't realise their identities had been used in the scam.

(Heseltine told her friends on Facebook that she wanted to have one big night out before she was jailed. The court heard the couple can not pay back the cash because they are broke)

The court heard Connell had 86 previous offences on his record whilst Heseltine had 15 offences.

Defence lawyer Richard Taylor said: 'They accept there was an illegal opportunity to make money and use their knowledge of the benefits system to make the relevant claims in a variety of ways.

'It would have been impossible for them to do that without detailed information from each person. 'They accept they are both equally involved over a three-year period and they kept 50 per cent of the monies obtained illegally.

'That's why it was paid into different accounts over which the victims had no control. The sophistication appears to be their own knowledge of the benefits system. They had no trappings of luxury.'

Passing sentence the judge Mr Recorder Nick Clarke, QC, told the couple: 'You were both in receipt of benefits designed to be sufficient to meet all needs like heat, light, warmth and clothing. Unfortunately, you are hardened criminals, who seek to exploit whatever system you can to extract money in as many different ways as you can.

'You identified a vulnerability in the processes that you sought to exploit. You used your inside knowledge of the workings of the various schemes and everything else you knew about how claims can be made and how payments can be diverted to accounts over which you have control.

'You consistently and persistently made fraudulent claims - it was almost on a commercial scale.'

Apparently aware she faced jail, Heseltine told all her friends she was going out for a big night on the town last week.

She wrote on Facebook: 'Last weekend peeps for a while so it's gonna be emotional... Im coming out tnite mite as well go out with a bang!!!! Need one last time with all my nearestmile and dance my ass off.

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