A FRAUDSTER who falsely claimed more than £60,000 in benefits has been jailed.
Preston Crown Court heard David Lockett, formerly of Moss Side Lane, Great Eccleston, was overpaid £63,000 in council tax benefit, income support and carer’s allowance, despite running a successful advertising business and owning a second home in France.
Lockett, 57, was investigated following a tip-off and was found to have failed to declare his income to the authorities, persistently lying about it over a five year period between April 2006 and April 2011.
Lockett pleaded guilty to benefit fraud in November and appeared in court on Monday, where he was sentenced to 33 weeks in prison as well as being ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,853.
The investigation was undertaken jointly by Wyre Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
DWP Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, believes the sentence handed down to Lockett sends a clear message to those abusing the system that investigators “will catch you”.
He said: “It’s cases like this that show us why tough action and welfare reform is so needed.
“Our welfare reforms, particularly universal credit, will make the system simpler and less open to abuse.
“We’re also cracking down on benefit fraud on the front line, and our investigators work tirelessly to catch these thieves and bring them to justice.
“The vast majority of those on benefits are law abiding people who need our help.
“But for those who try to cheat the system, our message is very clear – you are committing a crime, and we will catch you.”
Lockett ran his company, Viewpoint Advertising, from his home in Great Eccleston.
Coun Alan Vincent, cabinet member with responsibility for benefits at Wyre Council, said: “This is another example of our zero tolerance approach towards benefit fraud.
“We are not prepared to have hard working families and pensioners subsiding cheats.”
All the overpaid money taken by Lockett has been recovered.