Benefits cheat who could 'barely walk' caught snorkelling

Emma Woollacott
Benefits cheat caught scuba diving
Benefits cheat caught scuba diving

A benefits cheat from Tamworth who claimed she could barely walk has been caught out after holiday photos showed her snorkelling, scuba diving and quad biking in the Maldives.

Linda Hoey, 58, told the Department for Work and Pensions that degenerative arthritis and back problems meant she needed help to dress and took five minutes to walk three metres.

See also: Benefits cheat caught working as a binman

See also: Older people worst culprits when it comes to benefit fraud

She had previously said she would be housebound if it weren't for the fact that her husband was her full-time carer.

Over a period of 14 years, she claimed £65,244 in Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and avoided £15,690 in M6 toll charges by using her disability car - which was regularly upgraded free of charge.

However, after a tip-off, the DWP raided her home and found photos of holidays in Egypt and the Maldives that painted a rather different picture.

She was seen snorkelling and diving, quad-biking and playing pool - despite claiming that she couldn't raise her arms above shoulder level.

She was later revealed to be a member of a gym - and to have been working since 1997 for a car accessory supplier. Her boss said he had no idea that she was supposed to be disabled, and that he'd never even seen her walking with a stick.

Hoey told Stafford Crown Court that she hadn't been dishonest, Metro reports.

"My mobility has got worse," she said. "I cannot walk without severe discomfort but perhaps I could have explained things a lot better on the forms I filled in."

However, she was found guilty of misrepresenting her benefit claim between 2001 and 2015 and misusing an exemption pass for the M6 Toll Road between 2004 and 2015. She'll be sentenced in September.

Having a job doesn't automatically disqualify someone from claiming DLA - but lying about what you're capable of certainly does.

Only last week, George Beacham, of Preston, was found guilty of benefit fraud after claiming DLA while working as a binman.

While his job description required him to be 'physically fit and able to undertake heavy manual work', he'd claimed he could barely walk and even needed help getting out of bed.