Benefits cheat who could 'barely walk' caught snorkelling

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.

Ten thing to do in the Maldives
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Ten thing to do in the Maldives
From tiny shrimp to magnificent mantas, more than 1,000 species of fish and other underwater creatures live in the warm seas of the Maldives, not to mention the plethora of coral reefs. The waters are among the clearest in the world, providing amazing visibility: you'll be able to see fish up to 50m away. You don't need to be an expert diver: All resorts give training and facilities, with experienced diving instructors.
There's a lot more water than land in the Maldives, so opportunities for all sorts of watersports abound. Every resort in the Maldives boasts a sport centre, where you can try your hand at a different watersport every day: water polo, surfing, catamaran cruising, windsurfing, parasailing, kite surfing, jet-skiing, waterskiing....
Staying on your resort for your entire holiday might be tempting, but you'll miss a lot. One of the best ways to experience Maldivian life is to take an excursion to one of the inhabited islands: think brightly painted houses, quaint harbours and quiet fishing villages.  Apart from tourism, fishing and agriculture are the main industries. When work is finished at the end of the day, Maldivians take their showers, dress in fresh clothes and go for a stroll aound the island visiting friends, delivering bowls of curry, or watching the sun go down on the beach.
Fishing is intrinsic to the Maldivian way of life and a fishing boat trip is a must-do. For an added thrill, take a night reef tour (offered at many of the resorts) and experience the satisfaction of catching and cooking your own supper. Leaving at sunset, your skipper will find a good spot near a reef and the crew will show you how to use the lines. Then you get to fill your barbecue grill and dine on your catch.
The Maldives is made up of more than 1,190 islands - and only a fraction of these are utilised, so it's easy to find your very own personal island. Think verdant unspoilt vegetation surrounded by dazzling white beaches and clear waters: It really does exist.
Taking one of the many sea  plane tours on offer is one of the best ways to see the islands of the Maldives in their full glory. Fly over shallow lagoons and uninhabited islands and watch schools of dolphins, manta rays and colourful fish and admire the ever-changing hues of the sea... perfect for amateur and professional photographers alike.
The Whale Submarine, which takes you on an underwater tour, is a great day out - particularly for little ones who might not be up for scuba diving. Board at the submarine dock (The Whale House) before descending around 35m below the surface. Admire the views from the large magnifying windows: look out for lionfish and unicornfish, and see how the lights of the sub light up the colours of the coral reef. Ring ahead to book a place.
The markets of Male are a joy for the senses. The fish market is fascinating: if you're lucky you'll see the hammerhead sharks and huge tuna that have been caught that day. The colourful vegetable market next door is also well worth a visit. The betel leaves, areca nuts and white lime on sale here combine to give the only legal intocixation in the Maldives.
The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, in the South Ari Atoll, sits 5m below sea level, so looking out at the views provides plenty of fascinating entertainment. This is high-end dining with prices to match, but it's an unmissable treat for anyone wanting to do something really special.
After all, this is considered the premier tropical beach destination in the world, so it's the best place to relax and unwind and hide away from the world.

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