Prison threat to woman who used her dead child’s name to claim benefits

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.
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A Lincolnshire woman who used the identity of a dead child to falsely claim benefits has been warned she faces a possible jail sentence.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Maria Pridmore (36) falsely claimed over £16,000 in housing benefit, council tax and income support after failing to notify the authorities of changes in her circumstances.

Chris Geeson, prosecuting, told the court Pridmore began a legitimate claim after her child was born in 2009 but then continued after the infant sadly passed away.

The total amount taken over by Pridmore over a three year period was £16,931.

Mr Geeson told the court: “This was a long and protracted fraud.” He added: “The claim just started legitimately for a very short period of time but then it continued.

“She was living with a man as her husband in 2012 so she was not entitled to housing benefit or council tax or income support which she received.

“There were plenty of opportunities to tell the authorities of her change in circumstances.”

Pridmore, who has previously lived in Moulton and Spalding, admitted seven benefit charges between 2011 and 2013.

The court was told Pridmore had also committed a string of other offences including three frauds against highly vulnerable victims.

This included taking money from a neighbour of 13 years and withdrawing £550 from an ATM machine after stealing a bank card and pin from a dementia sufferer.

Recorder Paul Mann QC adjourned sentence until July 29 for further investigations to be made in to Pridmore’s personal circumstances.

But the Recorder warned her: “I make no promises, you could still go to prison for quite some time.”

Pridmore was granted bail on condition she lives at an electronically monitored address in Holbeach. She will next appear at Lincoln Crown Court on July 29.