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A woman who claimed to be a struggling single mum-of-two was sentenced to 15 months in prison at Basildon Crown Court today (Thursday June 21) after Havering Council uncovered her double life as a jet-setting wife of a London black cab driver.

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Maxine Kemp (nee Green), 45, had admitted fraudulently claiming more than £165,000 in benefits over a 20-year period, despite living in an expensively furnished home and enjoying numerous holidays abroad with her husband.

She started claiming benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 1991. After marrying Frederick Kemp she then began claiming housing and Council tax benefits as a single person.

Kemp’s fraud was uncovered after the Council carried out a credit check which revealed she lived with Mr Kemp in Bevan Way, Hornchurch.

A joint investigation was carried out by Havering Council and the DWP. Officers visiting the family home found £5,500 in cash at the property and were left in no doubt that the pair were living together as a married couple.

All of Mr Kemp’s clothes and possessions were found in the shared bedroom and during interviews they admitted taking numerous holidays abroad together.

During the investigation officers found that Kemp used her maiden name Green to claim benefits while using her married name for everything else.

His Honour Judge Owen-Jones said: “You have dishonestly made these claims for almost 20 years, lying from the outset and continuing that lie that you were a single woman when in fact you were married from a very young age.

“What is sad is that you are an intelligent and articulate lady who could have done very well and gained lawful employment, you did not do that.

“Even when the officers came to your house you continued to lie and say your husband was your brother.

“Your actions were thoroughly dishonest so only immediate custody is appropriate. Theft of this kind on the public purse cannot be condoned.”

Kemp had an unsettled background. She had been with her husband since she was at school and had their first child at 16. She claimed Mr Kemp came and went from her life so she relied on benefits to ensure she could support her children.

Councillor Roger Ramsey, Cabinet Member for Value, said: “I am pleased to see that justice has been done today and the judge saw fit to jail this fraudster.

“The benefits system is there to support the most vulnerable members of our community when they are in need so it is deplorable to steal such a large sum of money from our Council taxpayers while enjoying all the trappings of a wealthy lifestyle.

A payment plan has been set up with the Council for Kemp to repay the money.

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