Mother jailed for 15 invented kids

HMRC was late to cotton onto Kerry Melia. The 30-year-old unemployed Mother of six invented 15 more children so she could claim £60,000 plus in benefits cash. However no-one from HMRC double-checked that Melia was able to legitimately claim for her tax credits. Melia, from Tipton, West Midlands, has been jailed for eight months.

No means

The unemployed Mum of apparently 21 children commenced her fictitious claiming from January 2007. Prosecutor Barbara Webste however has however made it clear that the public cannot expect the money to be repaid as the Melia family clearly do not have the means to repay it.

This sort of case obviously makes you wonder how efficient HMRC actually is at tackling this sort of offence. But the real worry is how easy it was for Kerry Melia to get away with it in the first place.

That's because Melia's cover was that of a foster parent. Which meant she didn't have to provide a birth certificate in order to claim for these tax credits. Yet HMRC appear to be positioning the guilty verdict as a triumph for themselves.

Tough HMRC?

"This sentence shows that those who think they can cheat the benefits system should think again." HMRC spokesman Jennie Kendall is quoted in the Daily Mail.

But just for 2007/2008 - the year Melia began her fictitious claims - the National Audit Office found that UK fraud and overpayment for tax credits amounted to £1.84bn. And that must be a conservative figure.

A time for HMRC to claim credit?

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