A mother-of-three who falsely claimed £74,000 in benefits has been jailed for 12 months.
Carol Lamb claimed the money through tax credits, income support and council tax discount after telling authorities she had split from her husband in 2006.
But Liverpool Crown Court heard that her husband, Ernest Lamb, continued to live with her and their children in Silverdale Road, Bebington, and was supporting them financially.
Jailing 46-year-old Lamb for the five-year fraud the judge, Recorder David Eccles, said She had been convicted “on the most compelling and overwhelming evidence."
He accepted she would have been entitled to about £8,000 in benefits so the net figure she obtained was £66,000. "That is an awful lot of money. This fraud went on over a long time."
He told Lamb, who only has one previous conviction for abstracting electricity, that he took into account that she has physical, psychological and mental health problems and will find prison extremely difficult.
Lamb had been convicted of three fraud offences after a week-long trial during which she claimed she had split from her husband eight years ago and he only supported her through various illnesses.
She said the only reason they had not divorced was down to her strong religious views.
The court heard how Mrs Lamb claimed tax credits from April 2003, income support from January 2007 and a subsequent council tax discount.
But her husband’s monthly salary was paid into a joint account in both of their names, which was registered to the property and was the same account that Mrs Lamb’s benefits were paid into.
She claimed she did not know her husband’s salary was paid into her account, and thought it was her own personal account because she did not like to look at her statements.
When the couple jointly received nearly £9,000 in a PPI claim, the documentation was signed off by Mrs Lamb – and they also jointly applied for a £25,000 loan after she claimed they had split up.
A joint investigation by Revenue and Customs and Wirral Council also found Mr Lamb’s work van was regularly parked outside the property in the morning before leaving and returning in the evening between January and April 2012.
On July 9, 2012, police raided the home, where both Mr and Mrs Lamb were present, and his belongings, including clothes, were found in the main bedroom.
Paul Becker, defending, said Lamb has already paid back £2,000 and the outstanding amount is likely to be obtained from sale of the house when Proceeds of Crime proceedings take place.
She suffers from agoraphobia and has mobility problems but accepts it was a serious fraud involving public funds and had arrived at court expecting to go to jail, he added.