There are definitely pros and cons with sharing details about your personal life on social media. Of course, it’s a way to stay connected with friends and family, but being open with the private aspects of life may not always be beneficial. Now, unfortunately, one Coventry woman has learned the downfall of social media.
Wendy Cooper is now behind bars after nine years of lying about her marital status. The 44-year-old woman, who has been dubbed a “Benefits Cheat,” has claimed to be a single, unemployed mother of three in order to continue receiving benefits. According to the Coventry Telegraph, Cooper has “received the payments in housing and council tax benefits from Coventry City Council and in income support between September 2004 and October 2013.” Over the past nine years, she’s reportedly received more than $90,000.
So, how did investigators find out about her marital status? Facebook! Mirror reports investigators with the Department of Work and Pensions discovered the pictures on her social media page last November. After researching Cooper’s marital status, investigators discovered she’s been married for 10 years.
Prosecutor Jane Sarginson gave a detailed account of Cooper case. She stated that Cooper, who also identifies as Wendy Smith, has lied about being single for years. However, an investigation has revealed that Cooper has been married to Clifford Smith, the man in her Facebook pictures, since September of 2004. The investigation also revealed that Cooper has not been unemployed. She has reportedly worked five jobs over the nine-year span. She was only unemployed for a total of nine months during that time, reports Express UK.
“On nine separate forms over the period of time she included changes of address etc; but whenever asked to indicate whether she had a partner she ticked the box to say she was single. She was married to Mr. Smith, but even when interviewed she denied she was married and said they were just good friends,” Sarginson explained.
“But on her Facebook page there is even a photograph of her in her wedding dress, as well as references to going shopping with her husband. And not only was Cooper failing to declare her marital status, she also failed to declare that, for all but nine months over the nine years, she was working. She has had five different employers, and for a period of time she actually worked for Coventry City Council,” said Miss Sarginson.
Cooper has been sentenced to eight months in prison after she admitted to 21 counts of failure to notify a change in circumstances.
[Image via Facebook, Wendy Cooper Smith]