Former Sandwell resident prosecuted for fraudulently claiming Direct Payments

Sandwell Council has successfully prosecuted a woman who fraudulently misused more than £12,600 in Direct Payments – and spent some of the money on shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Jennifer O’Carroll, aged 57 of Stafford, who was formerly known as Jennifer Handley of West Bromwich at the time of the offences, was sentenced at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on 30 March 2022 after pleading guilty to four offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006.

Her sentence was a curfew for two months, between the hours of 6pm and 6am, to be electronically monitored and she was ordered to pay £1,000 costs within 28 days.

The four offences related to the fact that she had made false representations regarding her Direct Payment agreement and provided false information for a social housing application. She had supplied false information about the ownership of the property she was living in, indicating that was she living with family, when in fact she was the owner.

The Direct Payment fraud related to her obtaining payments to employ external Personal Assistants to provide care assistance. Instead of using the money for the correct purpose, she transferred money to family members and stated they were her carers.  This was against the rules as both family members lived with her for periods of time and a PA cannot be a close relative living in the same house, unless in exceptional circumstances and with the express permission of the Council.

She also submitted false timesheets and withdrawals had no resemblance to what hours were claimed to be being worked.  She transferred money to her personal accounts and was found to have spent Direct Payment money on high street shops, restaurants and other entertainment outlets.

The Council reclaimed the sum of £12,618 of Direct Payment money that had been paid out as the DP Review found that the money was not used for care intended and was used for personal use. This has since been repaid in full.

She also put in a fraudulent application for council housing. This was cancelled as soon as the facts came to light. She was not awarded a council tenancy.


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