Tracy Johnson has today been jailed for one year having been convicted of 13 counts of benefit fraud at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court.
Ms Johnson was found to have travelled the globe and set up companies in South America, all while claiming to suffer from severe health problems, including agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. She was found to be in fraudulent receipt of Disability Living Allowance, Income Support, Housing and Council Tax Benefit and Child Tax Credits totalling £48,000 between 2005 and 2007, despite having made multiple trips to India, South America and New York during that time.
Andrew Penhale, Deputy Head of Fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said:
“Tracy Johnson plotted a blatant fraud against the public purse. She used taxpayers’ money to fund a lavish, globetrotting lifestyle, all the while exploiting a system designed to support society’s most vulnerable citizens.
“This is one of the worst examples of benefit fraud that we have seen. Ms Johnson claimed more than £1000 per month in benefit payments over five years, when in truth she was spending the majority of her time either travelling or working abroad.
“Not only did Ms Johnson travel the globe while claiming she was ‘a prisoner in her own home,’ but she also ran her own tour guide company in South America and earned money working as a wedding photographer. In 2011 she even authored a book entitled ‘Last Tango in Buenos Aires’, detailing her experiences as an English woman living in Argentina.
“Making a false claim to suffer from anxiety, depression and agoraphobia undermines those who do genuinely suffer from these debilitating conditions.”