32-year-old Carina Reid has received a three-year jail sentence after benefits investigators uncovered her lavish lifestyle on Facebook. Reid had previously claimed that she was so poor she had to accept food from a mosque, and dishonestly received over £50,000 in housing and council tax benefits.
She lived on King’s Road in Chelsea, a house she’d bought on a £20,000 deposit, and had £180,000 in 19 different bank accounts.
Reid received her sentence at Isleworth Crown Court for dishonestly claiming benefits. The beautician had told the council that she had not gone on any holidays between 2009 and 2014.
The court heard how Reid claimed that her beauty business had brought in very low income, and that she first claimed benefits in 2009 from Kensington and Chelsea Council. However, her Facebook page showed Reid on holiday in a number of countries, sipping champagne in Harrods and dining in lavish London establishments including Scotts, the Dorchester Hotel and the Berkeley Hotel.
Reid got the mortgage for her apartment based on her true tax returns, which revealed that Enhance, her business, was successful.
In 2013-2014, she sent £116,000 to acquire property in Dubai, with her LinkedIn profile highlighting her plans to expand her business to Dubai and Los Angeles.
Of the nine dishonesty charges brought against Reid, eight pertained to her failure to declare savings of £180,000 in 19 separate bank accounts.
She also faced a charge of making a false representation to the council after a tenancy agreement of the apartment listed her as a tenant, when in fact she was the owner.
Reid received £51,110.37 in benefits from the council, including £48,395.99 housing benefits, £2,173.40 council tax benefits and £540.98 council tax reduction.
Reid told the court that she was not living a lavish lifestyle despite what her social media posts may have suggested, and claimed that some of the trips were paid for by boyfriends or friends, and that others were business training trips.
Reid also claimed that she had accurately represented her tax records.
During the sentencing, Judge Marks Moore called Reid’s fraud “sophisticated” and “premeditated” and was created to fund her lavish lifestyle.
He stated that it was “not a passive fraud” and that there was a “positive demonstration to deceive” every time she filed a claim form.
Council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown said of the case: “Money that was intended for those in greatest need was instead dishonestly used by Carina Reid to fund a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers' expense. I am very pleased that following our investigation, which uncovered her real circumstances, the court has handed down this custodial sentence.”
Sources: Daily Mail