Benefit fraud is a national disgrace, a judge said after jailing a mother-of-two who wrongly took more than $80,000 in domestic purposes payments.
Warea woman Lisa Maria Reid, 34, admitted fraudulently receiving $80,552.32 in benefits and rent when she was living with her husband for the past four years.
When she confessed in January what she had done, Reid told investigators there was a lot going on in her life. She continued to take the money to provide herself and her two children with a safety net.
Defence counsel Christine Sargeson asked for a community-based sentence to allow the remorseful Reid to continue to care for her teenage children. She was a first offender.
But Judge Allan Roberts said the $80,000 involved 200 separate payments.
"Benefit fraud is a national problem and a national disgrace.
"This was serious offending. It was a maintained deceit over four years. The actual loss was significant and the prospects of recovery non-existent."
In sentencing Reid to 12 months in jail, the judge said an electronically monitored sentence was not appropriate.
In a statement yesterday, Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Iona Holsted said all Reid needed to do was tell her case manager or call the 0800 number to let them know of any changes.
As with all clients, Reid had a legal obligation to tell Work and Income of any change to her personal circumstances that would affect her entitlement, Holsted said.
"In carrying out this offence Reid has taken money from individuals and communities which genuinely need it. These are the people she's really let down."
- Taranaki Daily News