Woman who gets £30k in benefits for being ‘disabled’ caught after horse riding picture shared on Facebook

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A fraudster who claimed to be disabled to receive benefits was caught after a picture of her horse riding was shared on social media.

A woman who claimed to be disabled and received £30,000 in benefits was caught after a picture of her horse riding was shared on Facebook. Michelle Hanney, 51, had claimed she could only walk between 20m and 50m and needed to use a wheelchair when going outside.

She was then awarded both Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit totalling £33,711.24 between May 2021 and August last year. But Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigators became suspicious of Hanney when they spotted a photo of her sitting atop a stallion on Facebook.

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And during a surveillance operation, they took further pictures of her walking freely alongside a pony at a stables. Hanney, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to fraudulent activity at Sheffield Magistrates Court and was given a 12-month community order.

She was prosecuted on the basis of a lesser amount, £10,384.50, which the DWP say it will now try to recoup, but the overpayment still stands at £33,711.24.

Michelle Hanney pictured riding a horse. (DWP/SWNS)Michelle Hanney pictured riding a horse. (DWP/SWNS)
Michelle Hanney pictured riding a horse. (DWP/SWNS) | DWP / SWNS

Tom Pursglove MP, the minister responsible for tackling fraud, said the conviction was an example of how the government was cracking down on benefit cheats.

He said: “The vast majority of disability benefit claims are correct, and we know the difference that these benefits can make to people. However, there is a small minority of people out to cheat the system.

“This conviction is another example of our relentless focus on finding those taking the taxpayer for a ride and bringing them to justice.”