Caroline Banana, who won £95,000 on the TV programme Deal or No Deal, has been found guilty of benefit fraud. The 40-year-old from Whitridge Grove, Bentilee, has been sentenced to 215 hours of unpaid work after fraudulently claiming just over £6,000.
It's a strange tale - but it's not as uncommon as you might think.
FraudBanana won the incredible sum on the show in November 2011, but failed to declare it to the Department for Work and Pensions. According to the Mirror, just weeks after the win, and before receiving the prize money, she filled out a form stating that she was not due to receive any money.
She also failed to tell the DWP that she had found work, including jobs at a chemists, hospital and doctor's surgery.
The Mirror has reported that an anonymous tip-off after the show was broadcast lead to the investigation and subsequent trial.
According to the BBC, she claimed the benefits between 28 March 2011 and 13 May 2012, and has admitted wrongly claiming £6,100 in housing and council tax benefits and income support. She also admitted falsely claiming free school meals.
SentencedIn addition to her sentence, she has been ordered to repay £2,517 to the DWP and £3,794 to Stoke-on-Trent City Council - plus court costs of £350. She has already repaid £1,300, and her solicitor said she would have to sell a £60,000 property in Turkey in order to pay the rest.
District Judge David Taylor said that her decision not to declare the winnings was "a deliberate cover-up". She also chose not to plead guilty until a week before her trial - so only got minimum credit for the plea.
Not aloneIt is a peculiar tale. However, Banana is not the only person to have won some money and then run into difficulties over benefits.
Last August, 53-year-old John Anderson from Dundee was jailed after failing to disclose a £100,000 scratchcard win. He was sentenced for fraudulently claiming £6,000 in benefits after winning the money.
Then in October last year, Lawrence Candlish, (a former factory-worker originally from Tyneside) aged 38, hit the headlines, for winning £5 million on the lottery, but after spending it he turned to benefits fraud - claiming disability benefits and not revealing he had moved to Spain.
Then there was Edward Putman, 46 of Station Road, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire who won £5 million on the lottery and applied for benefits ten months later without admitting to the windfall. He admitted to benefits fraud last July and was jailed for nine months.
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