Tax credit fraud investigator sentenced for tax credit fraud

Laura Southern appeared at Craigavon Court
Laura Southern appeared at Craigavon Court

A Co Antrim woman employed by HMRC to track down tax credit cheats has been handed a suspended jail sentence for stealing more than £34,000 in tax credits.

Laura Southern, 36, of Clonmore Park in Lisburn, worked as a benefits and credits compliance manager in Belfast until she was identified as having falsely claimed to be a single parent despite living with a partner.

She was interviewed by investigators in February in relation to providing false information to HMRC.

Southern, who had worked for HMRC for 16 years, was dismissed in August, having fraudulently claimed £34,209.44 in tax credits between 2012 and 2017.

Joff Parsons of HMRC said: “Southern was employed to track down people committing the very crime she has been convicted of. She knew exactly what she was doing and even though she knew it was wrong, thought she could get away with stealing tax credits she wasn’t entitled to. But her deceit was exposed and now she is paying the price. We ask anyone with information about tax fraud to contact the HMRC fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Southern appeared at Craigavon Crown Court on Tuesday and was given a 15-month prison sentence suspended for three years.