Tracy Johnson – “agoraphobic” jailed for benefit fraud

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Introduction

Tracy Johnson was convicted in March 2014 of 12 counts of benefit fraud. On 23rd April, she was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

It seems that Ms Johnson was claiming (unspecified) benefits on the basis that she had agoraphobia and was effectively house bound. During this time (2008-2012) Ms Johnson was in fact living a”“champagne lifestyle”, which included travels to Argentina, New York and Madrid.” This was funded, in part, by a travel guiding business that she operated in Argentina and a book that she had written. She was convicted of falsely claiming £48,000 in benefits.

 Comment

There are Sentencing Guidelines for Benefit Fraud (page 25). It looks like Ms Johnson was actually claiming benefits legitimately originally, but failed to declare the changes in her circumstances. This makes the offence less serious, and it would appear to be in the 3rd row and 3rd column. This gives a starting point of 36 weeks for a fraud of £60,000 with a range of 12 weeks to 18 months.

Here, there is no credit for a plea of guilty and the Judge appears to have taken a pretty dim view of what was a pretty blatant fraud. This is therefore higher than could be expected, but not so much as to be appealable.

It seems that the money that Ms Johnson obtained was all spent, bar £600. The BBC reported that she would not have to pay back any of the money (as there was none left) save for the £600 she had already paid back. It seems as though no compensation order was made as she has no means by which to pay any money back.

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About Dan Bunting

I'm a lawyer who works for myself. Legal geek, maths freak, general dullard and jack of all trades. Here’s a few views on law and occasional musings on life. Usual caveats about not relying on anything I say etc applies.

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