UNITED KINGDOM – A former Eurovision singer from Liverpool was spared jail after pleading guilty to making false claims for tax credits totalling more than £67,000. Gemma Abbey, one half of duo Jemini – who competed in the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest – made a false claim to the Severe Disability element of tax credits for her daughter and did not report a change to her circumstances when she started living with her partner, Sean Creighton.
Ms Abbey, of Abbottshey Avenue, Mossley Hill, married Mr Creighton in 2013 but continued to claim tax credits as a single parent. This meant she was overpaid tax credits between February 18, 2009 to August 15, 2015 of £67,570.75. Ms Abbey pleaded guilty last month and was today sentenced to 30 weeks custody in Liverpool, suspended for 12 months. She also received a 12 months supervision order.
Jemini performed the song Cry Baby at the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest in Latvia, but failed to impress, scoring ‘nul points’ – a British first. Ms Abbey, who performed alongside Chris Cromby, has since made a number of television appearances including on Pointless Celebrities and for a BBC documentary in 2014.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Most people claiming benefits are honest, but there are the unscrupulous minority who cheat taxpayers’ money out of our welfare system and divert it away from those who really need it. People pretending to live alone to get benefits is one of the most common types of benefit fraud, and this case shows our investigators are bringing criminals to justice.
“Failure to report a change in circumstances that may affect your benefit claim, such as a partner moving in, is a crime. People must tell us if their situation changes before it’s too late. If you suspect someone of fraudulently claiming benefits, then call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440.”