'Everyone on the estate is doing it': The Hull benefits scheme that tempted 21 fraudsters
THEY took the risk and became entangled in a benefit swindle sweeping east Hull.
Already, 21 people, mainly living in the streets off Preston Road, have admitted benefit fraud, with cheques for just a few pounds being altered to hundreds of pounds.
One person arrested during the major fraud investigation told police: "Everyone on the estate is doing it."
This week, 21 men and women appeared at Hull Magistrates' Court admitting defrauding the Department for Work and Pensions of thousands of pounds.
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Police suspect one man was responsible for altering the cheques but he has not yet been named in court.
Kerensa Jackson was one of the defendants to appear before magistrates this week.
Jackson, 36, of Cambridge Grove, gave the man a social fund payment slip for £10, which was altered to £390. She paid him £50 to alter the cheque in November 2011.
The mother-of-four has admitted fraud by false representation.
Prosecutor Nicola Trory told the court: "A friend told her there was a person on the estate who altered cheques."
Jackson's solicitor Robin Smith said: "There was no conspiracy here. Each person went to the person responsible for altering the cheques individually."
Presiding magistrate Fiona Harding told Jackson: "You had financial difficulties but there are many people in this city in that position who aren't doing this."
Jackson was given a six-month community order with supervision and ordered to pay £85 costs.
Alexander David Giblin, 23, of St John's Grove, admitted two charges of fraud by false representation.
Ms Trory said he had three cheques for Jobseekers' Allowance altered and cashed.
His solicitor Rachael Davies said: "It was the lead-up to Christmas, he was very short of money. This scheme was mentioned to him and he was, unfortunately, tempted."
Another defendant, Claire Menell, had 14 cheques altered and made a profit of £5,000, while Bodelle Chapman had a cheque altered from £29 to £350. She had been working at a casino but got into debt in 2011.
Her solicitor, Luke Yarrow said she had also come out of an eight-year relationship after her partner cheated on her.
"She had a £350 vet's bill and went running around the estate to try to get help," he said. "But she realises what she did was immensely foolish."
Chapman said it was a "moment of insanity" and is now concerned about losing her job after being handed a one-year community order. She also has to do 45 hours of unpaid work and pay £85 in costs.
Deborah Menell, 49, of College Grove, also admitted two offences of committing fraud by false representation.
She paid £100 to have two social fund cheques altered from £117 to £374.21 and from £44.06 to £370.
Ms Trory said: "She heard everyone on the estate was doing it."
Daryl Tong, 23, sold a number of cheques on to be altered. He was paid £150 for each cheque and admitted supplying articles to be used in fraud.
Magistrates were told the Department for Work and Pensions had reduced each defendant's benefits to recoup the money.
Kimberley Ann Ford, who had one cheque changed from £10 to £390, was given a 12-month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work.
Other defendants will appear in court today and over the coming months.