Watford Borough Council received information from an anonymous source stating that Hannah Panayides, aged 35, of Whippendell Road, Watford, was receiving an income for a company called ‘Adult Work'.
Furthermore, the allegation against her also stated that she worked as a dancer at Diamonds & Strings Gentleman’s club in Watford.
An investigation was carried out as Miss Panayides was claiming Council Tax Reduction as a lone parent from Watford Borough Council and had not declared any work. In total, she claimed £1,148 in council tax reductions.
Fraud investigators contacted Adult Work (an internet based company in Malta), and they confirmed that Miss Panayides had been working for them via their website. We requested her earnings from Adult Work and they complied with our request
Miss Panayides was interviewed under caution in March 2016 and the allegations were put to her.
Under special powers, fraud investigators obtained her bank statements for a period of 13 months, which showed no less than £22,000 being paid into her account. WBC’s findings revealed that Miss Panayides was overpaid Council Tax Reduction from April 2015 to May 2016.
Miss Panayides was summoned to court and as a consequence of her failing to attend the case was heard in her absence on 29 March 2017.
She was found guilty of fraud and fined £440. Costs of £540 were awarded to Watford Borough Council and Miss Panayides also had to pay a £44 victim surcharge. Moreover, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also cancelled her claim for Social Security benefits between March 2015 and May 2016 and created an overpayment.
Gary Turner, Fraud Manager at Three Rivers District Council & Watford Borough Council said: “The council takes benefit fraud very seriously and will continue to do everything within its power to stop this. Benefit fraud is against the law and is classed as theft.”