A British couple was arrested after claiming more than $132,000 in state benefits to fund a dream wedding in Cuba.
Tracy Dougherty claimed she was a lone parent of four children and received income support, housing benefits and tax benefits. Her husband, Stephen Turner, claimed out-of-work benefits, despite his job as a self-employed driving instructor, and claimed to be his mother’s caretaker. He failed to declare his savings and the money in his bank account, and received more than $7,000 in benefits.
The couple was discovered by investigators and found to have made false claims since 2000. When officers searched the couple’s home, they found wedding invitations to friends and a letter from Dougherty stating she was personally paying for 20 guests to fly to her wedding in Cuba.
The couple was arrested in August 2013 after officials began to suspect they had been committing fraud.
“At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, this kind of behavior will no doubt frustrate those footing the bill,” Councillor Paul Kenny of the Wigan Council said. “Benefits are there for people who need them, not for those who want to subsidize their income and pay for expensive holidays.”
Both pleaded guilty to falsely claiming benefits. Turner was fined $741 with $1,100 in costs, and ordered to pay $4,300 for a confiscation order. If he fails to pay the fees, he will incur a month-long prison sentence.
Dougherty was jailed for eight months. She now faces court hearings to recover the payments.
Kenny slammed the couple for living a lavish lifestyle at the expense of taxpayers.
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