Brit expat in Portugal gets 12 months for benefit fraud

Published:  14 Nov at 9 AM
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A British woman living in Portugal has been handed a 12-month prison sentence after falsely claiming the benefits of her deceased mother.
Maria Joao Ferreira Lucas claimed more than £73,500 by posing as her mother, who died in January 2008. Instead of informing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that her mother had passed away, she claimed all the benefits before transferring them into their own account.
The British Embassy in Lisbon issued a statement saying that Ms Lucas contacted the DWP in June 2008, posing as her deceased mother, and requested that all benefits were paid into her account. She also wrote to the Lambeth Local Authority, again posing as her mother, and instructed them to redirect all council tax benefits to her Portugal-based account.
Ms Lucas has resided in Portugal for several years, but was caught out by the DWP department that investigates benefit fraud overseas. On 10 September, she flew back to the UK and was arrested and questioned. She confessed that while she was living in Portugal she had been fraudulently claiming her deceased mother’s benefits.
The ensuing hearing concluded that a total of £73,526.66 was fraudulently claimed from the DWP and the Lambeth Local Authority from false claims of Income Support, Careers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
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