Benefits cheat caught out after being snapped riding a horse

Michelle Hanney, a 51-year-old woman, had claimed she could only walk short distances, between 20m (65ft) and 50m (165ft), and relied on a wheelchair when venturing outside.

As a result, she was granted both Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit, amounting to a staggering £33,711.24 between May 2021 and August of the previous year.

However, suspicions were raised by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators when they stumbled upon a photograph of Hanney atop a horse on Facebook. This discovery prompted a surveillance operation, during which further images were captured of Hanney freely walking alongside a pony at a local stable.

Hanney, from Rotherham in South Yorkshire, pled guilty to fraudulent activity at Sheffield Magistrates Court. She was given a 12-month community order. Although she was prosecuted for a lesser amount, £10,384.50, the DWP intends to recover the full overpayment of £33,711.24.

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Tom Pursglove MP, the minister responsible for combating fraud, highlighted this conviction as a testament to the Government’s commitment to cracking down on benefit cheats.

He said: “The vast majority of disability benefit claims are correct, and we know the difference that these benefits can make to people.

“However, there is a small minority of people out to cheat the system.

“This conviction is another example of our relentless focus on finding those taking the taxpayer for a ride and bringing them to justice.”

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