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Friday, May 27, 2011

Our £140k benefits swindle: Middle-class couple jailed for living life of luxury on housing hand-outs

By Daily Mail Reporter

Cheats: Peter Campbell and his partner Suzie Dwyer lived a life of luxury while claiming almost £140,000 in benefits

They lived in a smart house, drove top-of-the-range cars and enjoyed luxury holidays in Florida, Barbados and Marbella.

To friends and neighbours Peter Campbell and Suzie Dwyer appeared to be well on their way to their first million.

But the façade came crashing down after it was revealed they were actually a couple of benefit fraudsters who funded their lavish lifestyle with almost £140,000 of taxpayers’ money.

For more than a decade, the couple lied to the authorities to claim a string of benefits they were not entitled to – despite the fact that BMW-driving Campbell was earning up to £70,000 a year managing his own electronics business.

Last night they were behind bars after a judge jailed them for 16 months each saying the public would be ‘staggered’ by their dishonesty.

Their elaborate fraud began in 1999 when Campbell, 34, moved his partner and baby into his home in Knowsley Village, Merseyside.

Despite living together as a couple, Dwyer, 36, continued to make bogus applications for benefits claiming she was a single mother.

The pair also claimed Campbell, a golf club member, was Dwyer’s landlord so he would receive housing benefit payments.

The couple went on to have two more children together before their fraud was finally uncovered.

At Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Bryn Holloway told them: ‘People will be staggered to learn of the extent and duration of your dishonesty.’

Plush: This picture, issued by the Department for Work and Pensions, shows the couple's £400,000 luxury home

Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said the couple’s dishonesty began in August 1999 when Dwyer moved into Campbell’s home.

He said the ‘professionally planned’ fraud involved the pair creating fake tenancy agreements to maintain the pretence she was simply his tenant rather than his partner and mother of his children.

In 2005 the couple moved into a £400,000 home, also in Knowsley Village, and continued with their scam, enjoying a Caribbean cruise, holidays to Florida, Barbados and Marbella, and splashing out on a large extension to their home.

The pair were eventually snared after officials from the Department for Work and Pensions put them under surveillance.

Investigators watched as Campbell arrived regularly at the house, despite claiming he lived at his mother’s. A search of the home following their arrest revealed his clothes and dozens of family photographs.

Campbell, who pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud, hugged his sobbing partner as they were led down. Dwyer had admitted 17 offences. The fraud, which also included council tax, totalled £137,000.

Campbell, whose firm employs 15 people, has already repaid £21,000.

The couple’s three children, aged 13, 11 and five, will be cared for by Dwyer’s mother.

The couple were able to use the benefits money to build a large extension to their home

Shots of the interior of the couple's house were released by the Department of Work and Pensions



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