Most people who claim benefits are perfectly entitled to get the support they need.
But there are also a minority of scammers who give the system a bad name by trying to con their way into tax payer’s cash.
From a woman who claimed she was blind to claim £1m to a roofer ‘too sick to work’ spotted riding an elephant, there have been some outrageous benefit fraudsters over the years.
Now the Liverpool Echo has looked at some of the recent cases that have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Benefit cheat who ‘couldn’t leave his house’ spends 24 hours on top of HGV
An anti-fracking campaigner who claimed he could not leave his home because of “overwhelming psychological distress” staged a 24 hour protest on top of a lorry.
John Knox, from Kirkby, played an “active and vigorous part” in various demonstrations at Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Little Plumpton, Lancashire, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
The 33-year-old was seen handcuffing himself to other demonstrators, equipment and fencing on a number of occasions and jumping down from the top of a lorry after spending 24 hours on the vehicle in footage from June 2017.
But Knox had fraudulently claimed Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance at the time of the video, with overpayments reaching nearly £9,000.
He told a court he suffered “physical and mental ailments”, but investigators argued that didn’t tally with him chaining himself to other protesters and climbing on a lorry, for more than 24 hours.
Knox was convicted in January last year of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances after a three-day trial at Preston Crown Court and given a 12-month community order and a curfew between 9pm and 6am for three months and two weeks.
‘Blind’ woman claiming £1m caught shopping in Asda
Christina Pomfrey, 65, of The Glen, Palacefields, Runcorn used a string of ruses to make bogus claims, claiming she was blind and had multiple sclerosis in one of the nation’s largest ever welfare frauds.
These including using the fake name Christina Brown and different addresses in Runcorn and Oldham to claim £1,010,090.66 in a variety of social support and incapacity-related benefits.
She even made benefits claims in the name of her husband’s first wife, who had died in a car crash in 1979.
On benefits forms she claimed she was single with no other financial support.
Despite claiming she suffered debilitating symptoms, surveillance images captured by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed brazen fraudster Pomfrey walking and shopping unaided.
When the fraud was at its peak, Pomfrey was receiving more than £13,000 a month.
In June last year, Pomfrey was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison.
Roofer ‘too sick to work’ spotted riding an elephant
Lying Stephen Worton, 55, was caught out by his holiday albums which showed him in Amsterdam, Turkey and riding a camel and an off-road buggy in Egypt while claiming £85,000 of public cash.
He was earning a large salary running his own roofing business and owned a static caravan and a motor-boat while pocketing income support, housing benefit and council tax help over a 10-year period.
Kevin Slack, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that Worton originally claimed to be too sick to work because he had cancer and while that was true initially, he was soon back at work and any benefits obtained after that were dishonest.
Investigators recovered holiday albums featuring Worton, who was meant to be destitute, larking about in front of the pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt and washing an elephant on a beach in Goa.
Surveillance also showed Worton, who came to court walking on two sticks, up a ladder doing roofing work.
Caught out by plush gated home and luxury trips to Dubai
A couple with three children who pretended they were landlord and tenant to steal more than £100,000 of benefit cash between 2008 and 2017 lived a life of luxury from their ill-gotten gains.
Melissa Ellis, 34, and Jonathan Lucas, 38, pretended they were landlord and tenant to steal more than £108,754 of benefit cash between 2008 and 2017.
They pocketed housing benefit and other benefits for nine years but, at the same time, went on flashy holidays with their three children to America, Dubai and Portugal, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
The couple lived in a plush home on St Mary’s Road in Huyton, which was protected by security gates and had several luxury cars.
Suspicious fraud investigators for the Department for Work and Pensions eventually snared them after visiting the four-bedroom pad and realising they were living together as husband and wife.
Ellis pleaded guilty to two counts of making a dishonest representation to obtain benefit and three counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances.
She was jailed for two years and three months in January last year.
Lucas pleaded guilty to two counts of encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence. He was handed 21 months behind bars.