A WOMAN who fraudulently claimed more than £114,000 in benefits over a decade has been sent to prison for 15 months.

Jeanette Hart claimed Income Support, Housing and Council Tax Benefit after failing to declare she had a bank account containing £80,000.

When questioned by investigators she claimed the money belonged to a friend, Nevil Chan, and it was just resting in her account.

They both told investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions and Chiltern District Council Chan had loaned Hart the money, before she repaid him with the profits of selling her house.

A solicitor's letter relating to the sale of Hart's home in Harrow given to the council to support Hart's benefit claims turned out to be false - with a supposed mortgage of £194,977 not existing.

When single parent Hart moved to Cokes Lane, Chalfont St Giles, in July 2006 she gave Chiltern District Council a financial statement document claiming that after selling her previous home she had less than £10,000 in her bank account.

Further investigations revealed a separate account containing £80,000 - meaning Hart was not entitled to any of the benefits she had been claiming since 2002.

She was found guilty of eight counts of fraud after claiming five different types of benefit she was not entitled to over a ten year period. Hart was jailed for 15 months by an Amersham Crown Court judge on June 25.

Chan, of Byron Hill, Harrow pleaded guilty to two charges of aiding and abetting a fraud and of producing a false document - the altered solicitor's letter. He was was sent to prison for six months.

Inquiries by DWP and Chiltern District Council investigators established a mortgage settlement document had been altered to appear Hart had made little profit from the sale. It was also established the solicitors had been instructed to pay the sum of £194,977 to Chan’s family, with an examination of bank statements showing the same sum was transferred a matter of days later into an account in Hart's name.

Investigators also found Hart received an inheritance of £60,000 in 2001 that she had failed to declared. She claimed that the inheritance was her daughter’s money, but used by her to support her daughter.

A total of £30,000 in fraudulently claimed Housing and Council Tax Benefits has been recovered by the council through a separate civil action.