Fife mum jailed for £89k benefits scam


A Fife mother has been jailed for a benefits scam which gained her almost £90,000.

The fraud carried out by Toni Claughan, 48, of Burnside Crescent, Rosyth, lasted for more than five years.

She repeatedly made claims stating that she had split up from her husband.

That remained her position during a trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court but a jury did not believe her and found her guilty.

Claughan had denied that on various occasions between 14th February 2011 and 26th December 2016, she pretended to HM Revenue and Customs that she lived alone, except for dependent children.

The truth was she was living with and deriving financial benefit from Michael Claughan who was in paid employment. She thus induced the HMRC to pay her £89,915 in working tax credit and child tax credit, obtaining this amount by fraud.

Defence solicitor Janine Bates said her client had paid back £1200 of the sum involved over the past two years.

She added that her client had lost her job at Asda as a result of the conviction.

Sheriff Charles MacNair told Claughan, “The jury convicted you of this fraud and in doing so they found that you had not separated from your husband, by any definition of that term.

“During the time of the libel you made a number of calls to HMRC confirming your separation. Your pretence lasted almost six years.”

He added, “You were able to enjoy a relatively high standard of living including foreign holidays for your extended family.”

He jailed Claughan for 18 months. She also faces having to sell her home to pay back the money as the Crown is bringing a confiscation order against her under proceeds of crime legislation.

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