Fraud shame of cheating DWP worker

Blackpool Magistrates Court
Blackpool Magistrates Court
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A manager with the Department of Work and Pensions(DWP) defrauded her own employers by claiming she needed a constant carer to help her get through the day and night.

Gina Duane, 34, said she even needed the companion to advise her how to dress, and accompany her to and from work and to watch over her as she slept

As a result she was paid the highest possible rate carers allowance for what a court heard was a bi-polar condition.

But the communications manager with the DWP has now been exposed as a cheat.

Sentencing her, a magistrate said: “You are an experienced officer with the DWP and knew the rules, but you chose not to follow them.”

When her £28,000-a-year job required her to travel to meetings around the UK, she would use the trains, taxis and London Underground alone.

She would also stay alone at hotels. One of her line managers became suspicious of what she was doing and Duane, of Caxton Avenue, Bispham, was investigated by the DWP fraud unit.

Magistrates at Blackpool heard how she had never told the department how much her condition had improved, even though she was sent reminder letters.

As a result, she was overpaid £7,415 over an 18-month period.

Duane had been found guilty at a previous hearing, and returned to court to be sentenced.

Pam Smith, prosecuting, said that when she was interviewed about what she had done, Duane said her mother had filled in her original claim form, but the information in it was correct.

She admitted her condition had improved, but had forgotten to tell the very 
department she worked for.

She said that when she went on work trips, she had kept in touch with her carer by phone.

Sentencing Duane, chairman of the bench Barry Birch told her: “We accept you have medical issues, but you went very, very close close to going to prison today.

“You are an experienced officer with the DWP, and would have known exactly what you were doing every day.You knew the rules and you have left the public purse out of pocket,because you knew that should have notified changes in your circumstances, but you chose not to.”

Ashley Fisher, defending, said that Duane had been on a £25,000 spending spree, and as a result was in mortgage arrears and made bankrupt.

He said: “Since proceedings started against her she has been suspended from work. She is now concerned that following this hearing she will be dismissed.”

Duane was put on 18 months’ supervision by the Probation Service, and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

In a letter written before the hearing, Duane wrote: “I have embarrassed myself, my friends and family. I have spent crazy amounts of money on things I did not need.”