North Hykeham benefits fraudster had earned £115k on eBay
A Lincolnshire woman who claimed just under £40,000 in benefits while trading on eBay has been jailed for six months.
Fifty-two-year-old Deborah Tumber carried out 16,000 transactions on the internet site and received payments of around £115,000 into her various bank accounts.
Lincoln Crown Court heard the business became so successful that Tumber hired a storage unit and rented her own office.
At the same time Tumber was claiming a string of benefits including incapacity benefit, income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit. In total, Tumber received £18,256 incapacity benefit, £6,633 income support, £11,683 housing benefit and £2,507 council tax benefit.
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Nigel Stelling, prosecuting, said: "She claimed incapacity benefit on April 30, 2007 on the basis of being unfit to work due to her medical condition and various declarations were made.
"In October that year she made a claim for income support, again declarations were made on the forms.
"Then in November 2007 she made a claim for housing benefit and council tax benefit, again a written form was submitted."
The court heard the Department of Work and Pensions began an investigation after receiving a tip-off that Tumber was trading on eBay in March 2010. Investigations showed Tumber had been trading on eBay since before claiming the benefits and ceased in February 2011.
In mitigation, the court was told Tumber lost her husband ten years ago and did not realise her trading was fraudulent when she began.
Tumber, of Minevra Way, North Hykeham, pleaded guilty to three charges of fraudulently claiming her benefits. Passing sentence, Recorder Gareth Evans QC told Tumber he had no choice but to send her to prison because of the length of time she had been in business.
Recorder Evans said: "You started trading on eBay and turned it into a business. You were trading enthusiastically on eBay to the extent you required a storage unit and office.
"You knew perfectly well money was being paid into your account."