A hairdresser who falsely claimed benefits as a “single” mum was caught out because she had posted her wedding photographs on Facebook.
Nicola Joy was unmasked as a benefits cheat following a tip-off to investigators.
And when officials checked out her Facebook page they found four photographs of her in her wedding dress.
Her husband Gary Joy had also declared his love for his “amazing wife” in a public message posted online to mark their second wedding anniversary.
‘Clear she was married’
Mrs Joy, a partner in a hairdressing business, admitted a £43,000 benefits scam but escaped immediate imprisonment – mainly because she has a five-year-old son to care for.
She claimed benefits as a single woman but it was clear that she was married and living in a common household with her husband.
Since 2009 she had been on 10 holidays, which she admitted she could not have done without her husband’s income and the benefits, said prosecuting barrister Sion ap Mihangel.
It emerged that she had a £2,000 share in a hairdressing business and was partner in it.
Joy, 28, of Wrexham Road in Mold, received a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
She was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
‘Great deal of concern in society’
Judge Rhys Rowlands, sitting at Mold Crown Court, said she dishonestly failed to notify a change in her circumstances.
That meant she was paid a significant amount of public money over a period of three years or so to which she was not entitled.
She continued to claim benefits as a single mother after she was married.
There was pressure on public finances, people had to make do with less, and people like her claimed money to which they were not entitled, he said.
He added that it caused a great deal of concern in society generally.
The prosecution said she had claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit to a total of £43,304.
No application for compensation
She had claimed as a single mother who said she did not know where the father of her child lived.
But an investigation was started after information was received and it emerged the couple had been living as husband and wife since at least March 2010.
There was no application for compensation because she was already paying the money back by standing order.
Guy Dodd, defending, said she deserved full credit for her guilty pleas and said that she had a young child to care for.
The judge said that if she was jailed her husband could give up work to care for the child, or the child could go and live with grandparents.
But he had decided exceptionally to give her a suspended sentence, he said.