A FRAUDSTER who claimed nearly £3,000 in benefits on an empty property she didn't own was spared jail last week.
Wendy Sloan, of no fixed abode, began claiming housing benefit in October 2008 on what she claimed was a first floor flat in Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware.
However, investigations by Harrow Council's fraud team discovered the property was in fact an empty house, owned by the adjoining dental surgery, and was merely undergoing a renovation.
Sloan, 29, even provided a fake tenancy agreement which named a D Patel as the landlady.
And even though, in reality, one of the co-owners of the building is Davina Patel, Sloan triggered suspicions when she wrongly listed another landlord as Anna Lee, who did not appear on any paperwork relating to the house.
Harrow Council halted the housing benefit claim in February 2009 - prompting jobless Sloan, to ring the authority to see why her cheques had stopped.
Shortly afterwards, Council investigators received a call from someone calling themselves Davish Patel and claiming to be co-owner of the Burnt Oak property.
A Harrow Council fraud investigator said: "This was fishy on two grounds. The alleged landlord who called us was an Irish male. The real life co-owner is Davina Patel - and unless she has recently swapped gender and nationality, was neither of those."
Sloan eventually admitted one charge of dishonestly making a false statement when she appeared before Harrow magistrates on Thursday last week, where she was handed a two year conditional discharge and fined £100 in costs.
Speaking after the case councillor Paul Osborn, responsible for corporate services, said: "Sloan escaped with a lenient sentence because she claimed ill health, but this woman clearly felt well enough to engage in deliberate fraud.
"This defendant clearly thought she could use property owned by a dentist's surgery to fill a cavity in her bank account. However, she quickly found that Harrow Council's fraud team were just as precise and no less painful than a dentist's drill."