Harlington debt collector outed as benefits cheat after fraudulently claiming £45k in tax credits

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

A debt collector from Harlington has been outed as a benefits cheat after fraudulently claiming over £45,000 in single person tax credits.

Angela Squires, 43, appeared at Luton Crown Court yesterday where she pleaded guilty to claiming the benefits over a six-year period while living with her husband.

Squires, of Goswell End Road, received a 21-month sentence suspended for two years after the court heard she was remorseful and the primary carer for two children. She has since found other work after being sacked by HMRC.

Recorder Ian Bridge described Squires’ deceit as an “unsophisticated fraud”.

He said: “The fact you worked for HMRC is a slightly aggravating factor. More serious is the duration of the offending.

“It involved numerous false documents in that period and it must have occurred to you that you were perpetuating an ongoing fraud.”

From 2011 to 2017, Squires completed annual review notices with HMRC describing herself as single and received £45,897.19 of tax credits she was not entitled to.

In July 2017, she told HMRC investigators that she and her husband had separated but had not told their children.

Nevertheless, officers searched the home and found evidence including adult male and female clothing in the bedroom, passports, pictures and a calendar indicating they lived together.

An audit of their financial records showed joint applications for mortgages and loans, as well as Facebook statuses regarding holidays.

Squires’ husband was also registered as the father of her youngest child, born during the period, despite her claim he was not the child’s biological father. Her defence stated the couple were “not in a sexual relationship”.

The prosecution stated : “Mrs Squires answered ‘no comment’ to all questions in relation to the investigation.

“She asserted that she considered her [earlier] separation with her husband permanent until around the end of 2010.”

Squires told investigators that by 2011, she accepted she “could not honestly say she was single”.

In addition to the 21-month sentence, suspended for two years, Squires was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation activity requirement for 15 days.