Pensioner in court over benefit fraud

A retired nurse is accused of creating false tenancy agreements and claimed she rented her £400,000 home in order to claim £66,000 in benefits that she wasn’t entitled to.

Margaret Ayensu, 71, lied over a period of ten years and fraudulently claimed pensions credit and housing benefit.

In addition, Ayensu also created several false letters to support her claims.

Ayensu, from Storrington, was spared jail by a judge due to her age and her years of public service working as a nurse.

However, Ayensu will have to repay more than £66,000.

Gareth Burrows, prosecuting, told Lewes Crown Court, “She claimed she had no income coming in and she was renting her property.

“She provided a rental agreement from a landlord in the name of Margaret McAlpine, but that was a name she had previously used. He property belonged to her.

“She claimed housing benefit from 2005 for the address that was in fact hers.

“She then subsequently provided a letter from a Cecil Grey confirming the rental. Again that letter was false.

“A further letter was provided in 2009 and that letter was on headed paper and again saying there was a rental agreement on that property.

“Again that letter was fraudulent. Whilst her deceit may not have taken considerable effort it was over a long period of time.”

Martin Williams, defending, said Ayensu had fallen into financial difficulties after retiring but had not realised there were benefits available that could help her while struggling to meet mortgage repayments.

Recorder Tom Nicholson-Pratt told Ayensu, “If you had gone about this in a legitimate way you could have got some help.

“You come before the court for dishonesty over a considerable period of time, between 2006 and 2017.

“You provided false documents to support your claim.

“You must have realised as this was going on you could stop it at any time. But you perpetuated it.

“You are now 71 years of age and have some health concerns.

“I take the view that in the circumstances of this case I can suspend your 12 month sentence and there will be a rehabilitation requirement on you.

“I know you are not going to put yourself in this position again.”