Tees

Masseuse Maribel Milligan jailed for £539k benefit fraud

Maribel Milligan working as a masseuse Image copyright DWP
Image caption Photographs of Milligan working as a masseuse were found during a search of her house

A fraudster who claimed £539,000 in benefits over 11 years while working as a masseuse has been jailed.

Maribel Milligan told authorities she was a single, disabled person with no income and needed 24-hour care.

But the 53-year-old, of County Durham, hid her marriage, owned several properties and was a company shareholder.

She was found guilty of fraud at Teesside Crown Court and jailed for three years.

When she was arrested at her home in 2013, she was not using a wheelchair and was able to walk downstairs unaided.

Photographs of her working as a masseuse and a video of her dancing were found on seized computers and mobile phones.

Her home, which had recently been renovated, had no adaptations for a disabled person and the loft had been converted into a beauty room.

Documents showed she was also a shareholder in a Venezuelan company.

The court was told Milligan, of West Cornforth, claimed a range of benefits between April 2002 and December 2013 including Income Support and Disability Living Allowance.

She also claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax on the basis she still lived alone in the the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions said: "There have not been many cases across the country worse than this for the extent of time it went on.

"She told a catalogue of lies, tricking inspectors and claiming so many benefits."

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