BENEFIT fraudsters appeared before magistrates court for falsely claiming a total of almost £30,000 from Huntingdonshire District Council.

Following investigations conducted by HDC's fraud team, between August 27 and September 3 the council prosecuted several individuals and issued an arrest warrant for two people who failed to turn up to court.

Among those who faced magistrates was Debra Charter, 47, of Surrey Road, Huntingdon, who pleaded guilty to 10 charges of benefit fraud - having falsely claimed £15,800 between 2007-2011.

Charter was told that her offending was so serious that the matter might be referred to the Crown Court for sentencing - her case was adjourned until September 17 for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Humphrey Norvill, 72, of Oak Tree Court, Godmanchester was overpaid £7,301 between 2006 and 2012 as he failed to declare that he was receiving a private pension whilst claiming housing and council tax benefit.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of benefit fraud at Huntingdon Magistrates court on September 3 and received an 18 month Conditional Discharge, was ordered to repay the sums overpaid and to cover the council's full costs of £1,200.

Between 27 August and 3 September 2013, Legal Services at Huntingdonshire District Council successfully prosecuted a number of individuals for benefit fraud following investigations conducted by the council's Fraud Team.

Veronica Rodriguez, 37, of St John's Terrace, Huntingdon was convicted of falsely claiming discounts of council tax, claiming she was the sole resident adult at her home whiles living with her partner for the seven year period from 2006 and 2013.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty before Huntingdon Magistrates on September 2 for six offences under the Fraud Act 2006. As well as being billed by the council to pay the £3,917 in full and £650 costs, she received a Community Order and will serve a three month curfew.

HDC said that Rodriguez is one of a number of people who have been prosecuted recently for making false claims for discounts or reductions in their council tax.

Colin Cragg, 49, formerly of Grafham, and Deborah Gillespie, 35, formerly of Huntingdon were both charged with separate matters of benefit fraud, but failed to attend court on 27 August 2013 and 3 September 2013 respectively. Magistrates issued warrants for their arrests.

Councillor Barry Chapman, Executive Councillor for Customer Services, said: "The council takes all fraud very seriously, and we are satisfied that the Magistrates view the situation as seriously as we do. Prosecution is always a last resort, but we will pursue people who falsely claim benefits they are not entitled to."

You can report fraud on the council's confidential 'fraud hotline' on 01480 388188, or e-mail fraud.team@huntsdc.gov.uk