A BRENTWOOD duo have been found guilty of falsely claiming nearly £16,000 in benefits.
Nina Bellia, 24, of The Drive, and Paul Coletti, 50, of Church Lane, both pleaded guilty at Basildon Magistrates Court after failing to notify Brentwood Council of their change in circumstances.
Bellia was overpaid £6,801 in housing benefit from September 2011 to September 2013, and £1,606 in council tax benefit from September 2011 to March 2013 after failing to tell the council she started a new job.
She was ordered to pay a fine of £160, £300 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.
Coletti pleaded guilty after being overpaid £6,585 in housing benefit between October 2012 and December 2013, and £436 in council tax benefit between October 2012 and March 2013.
He was ordered to pay a £220 fine, £300 costs and a victim surcharge of £22 after failing to tell the council that his Jobseekers’ Allowance had stopped and had started work.
As well as the fines, both Bellia and Coletti must pay back the overpayment in full.
Councillor Graeme Clark, who chairs the audit and scrutiny committee, said: “Benefit fraud is a crime that takes money away from those who really need it.
“We are determined to prosecute those who make fraudulent claims and make sure they give the money back.”