A mother who claimed housing and council tax benefit from Ealing Council when she owned a property in Feltham avoided jail thanks to her children.
A judge at Isleworth Crown Court decided that a prison sentence would adversely affect the four children and would cost the taxpayer a great deal more if the state had to care for them.
Stella Okechi-Nworjih, who cheated the borough of nearly £8,000 and has rent arrears on an Acton council flat of more than £20,000, was spared prison.
She was instead given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years and must do 80 hours unpaid work.
Judge Andrew McDowall told her they were serious offences which would normally merit an immediate custodial sentence.
"If you were in other personal circumstances only an immediate prison sentence would serve," he said.
"But there are other people, in particular your children, who would be affected. It would have a very serious personal impact on them and there would be a substantial cost to the taxpayer in looking after them. So the fairest way is to suspend the sentence."
Okechi-Nworjih who was living in Woolf Court, Vincent Road, but is now in Beeston Way, Feltham, which is about to be repossessed, admitted six charges of dishonestly giving false information between April 2004 and September 2006.
It resulted in an overpayment of £6,140 in housing benefit and £1,686 in council tax benefit.
She must repay the housing benefit and court costs of £4,495 from the equity available when her Feltham home is sold.