Council’s warnings after ‘escort’ case

Scarborough Town Hall

Scarborough Town Hall

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THOSE fraudulently claiming public cash in Scarborough will continue to be prosecuted, benefit cheats have been warned.

This week has seen a number of people brought before the courts accused of benefit fraud, including 43-year-old Sally Barandiaran who claimed more than £10,000 after she failed to disclose her earnings as an escort.

She advertised her services for £130 per hour on a website, going under the alias ‘Lady Carla’.

She entered guilty pleas to four offences on Tuesday. She was ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and repay almost £3,500 to Scarborough Council.

It is likely that she will also have to repay more than £6,000 to the Department for Work and Pensions for Jobseekers’ Allowance.

Magistrate Phillip Catterall, the chairman of the bench, said Barandiaran had only avoided jail because she had no previous convictions.

A spokesman for the council, which brought the prosecution on behalf of the local authority and the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “The council has always adopted a strong approach against benefit fraud. It simply isn’t fair to deliberately and systematically take money from public funds.

“We only prosecute in a minority of cases, but we won’t hesitate to bring offenders to justice.

“It’s our duty to protect our taxpayers and their services from attack by fraud.”

Another Scarborough woman admitted a single count of making a false statement to obtain a benefit on Tuesday.

She will be sentenced on March 7 for the offence, which she committed in February 2008.