Sunderland mum posed as her landlord in housing benefit fraud attempt after rent row

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A fraudster mum who posed as her landlord in a desperate bid to solve a cash dispute has walked free from court.

Lauren Taylor set up an email account in the landlord’s name before sending off a message to Sunderland City Council in an effort to have her housing benefits reinstated, a court heard.

She accepts she was wrong to set up the email account

Peter Lowthian

The 36-year-old had been served with a notice telling her she had to move out of her home, as it was being sold off – but her landlord contacted the benefits team to have her payments redirected to him, so he could collect rent arrears she had built up in her tenancy.

Magistrates were told that the mum-of-three had paid the sum she owed, but when her landlord didn’t inform the benefits team, she decided to create the fake account.

Taylor, of Kedleston Close, Sunderland, admitted a charge of fraud by false representation when she appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was a tenant of the landlord from November 2012 to March 2015.

“He served her with a section 21 notice in January, saying he was selling the property and she had to leave in two months.

“She had been in rent arrears and he had contacted the benefits team to have her housing benefits paid directly to him, so he could collect the arrears.

“The benefits department contacted him to say they had received an email saying he no longer needed the benefits.

“He said he knew nothing about the message and alerted police.

“Taylor was arrested and admitted sending the email in March stating the benefits could be sent directly to her.”

Peter Lowthian, defending, said: “She has two children and was seven months pregnant at the time.

“She was under some pressure to find alternative accommodation.

“She paid the arrears in cash and contacted the benefits department to explain, but they said they couldn’t take her word for it.

“She accepts she was wrong to set up the email account purporting to be from him.

“She says the money she owed was already in his possession, but what she did was wrong.”

Taylor was given a 24 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.