Published: 00:01, 17 January 2019
A former teacher who stashed a £184,000 inheritance while pocketing state benefits has received a lesson that cheats never prosper.
Grainne Furbank claimed three separate benefits, saying she had just one bank account with just £13.85 in it.
And when DWP fraud investigators began probing her case, the 63-year-old transferred funds from her secret accounts to family members.
And now a judge has ordered Furbank, of Cecil Square, Margate, to ensure that some of the money, which was used to buy houses, is returned to taxpayers.
Canterbury Crown Court heard how between April 2013 and June last year, Furbank repeatedly claimed housing, jobseekers’ allowance and employment support benefits.
But prosecutor Michael Peters said she failed to tell the authorities she had inherited money from the sale of her mother’s home.
During the four-year period after the home was sold she collected a total of almost £31,000 in benefits handouts.
The judge, Recorder Bruce Houlder QC, told Furbank – who had claimed she was bullied out of her teaching post – that she had let “greed get the better of her”.
He told her he was “astonished” that she had made no attempt to repay the money.
“You have very, very narrowly missed out on a prison sentence," he added.
And Recorder Houlder ordered Furbank to wear an electronic tag for three months and to stay at her home between 7pm and 6am each day.
“You claimed benefits to which you were not entitled and have moved around from Cornwall to Gloucester and so on,” he told her.
“You failed to declare a number of bank accounts, including one with £184,000. You decided to disseminate those funds to your children.
“You siphoned some of the money into your son’s account knowing you were going to be interviewed by the DWP, with that money coming back into your account later.”
The judge said he was not “fully persuaded” that the money was going to go to her children and that she was not going to benefit herself from the cash.
"You have very, very narrowly missed out on a prison sentence" - Recorder Bruce Houlder
“I am astonished that you, knowing you were coming to court, have made no attempt at recouping the money from your family that was effectively stolen from the State," he added.
Nicholas Jones, defending, said that Furbank was now suffering from heart problems and living on benefits.
He added: “She was a teacher and she feels she was bullied out of that employment.”
Furbank, who admitted three deception charges, was given a nine-month community order and told that there would now be an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to claw back the cash.
She was also ordered to pay £340 court costs.