Woman gets £470 of kitchen goods free from hardship fund – then flogs them on Facebook

York Community Furniture Store at The Raylor Centre, Lawrence Street. Photograph: Facebook
9 Jun 2016 @ 6.55 pm
| Crime, News

York Community Furniture Store at The Raylor Centre, Lawrence Street. Photograph: Facebook
York Community Furniture Store at The Raylor Centre, Lawrence Street. Photograph: Facebook
A York woman who was awarded free electrical goods via the council’s hardship scheme listed them for sale online before they were even delivered.

Abbey Dobson, 22, of Bentham House, Sowerby Road, Holgate, had applied for funds to buy the kitchen appliances from City of York Council’s financial assistance scheme.

The council agreed her application and provided a credit for her at York Community Furniture Store worth £470 to purchase a washing machine, cooker and refrigerator.

But suspicions were raised by the store when the goods were delivered and Dobson refused the services of an electrician to wire in the cooker.

Reporting fraud

The council’s fraud hotline: 01904 552935

Email [email protected]

Employees of the store subsequently noticed the items for sale on Facebook.

Some of the kitchen goods on sale at the community furniture store
Some of the kitchen goods on sale at the community furniture store

An investigation by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, revealed that the goods had been listed for sale before they had been delivered.

When interviewed Dobson admitted that she no longer required the items prior to their delivery and that she hadn’t declared this to the council or tried to return the items.

Dobson sold on the items to make a profit for herself.

Dishonesty does not pay

York Magistrates' Court. Photograph: Richard McDougall
York Magistrates’ Court. Photograph: Richard McDougall

York Magistrates Court on Wednesday (June 8) heard that it was the first ever prosecution for fraud in relation to the hardship fund, which was introduced in 2013.

Abbey Dobson pleaded guilty to all charges. She was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to fully repay the council’s loss, and pay court costs of £250.

York council leader Cllr David Carr said:

The council is committed to alleviating cases of extreme need within the city, but when initiatives like the York Financial Assistance Scheme are abused it will not hesitate to take strong action.

This prosecution shows that ultimately dishonesty does not pay.