Renata Nistorova, who conned the tax payer out of £36,000 by stealing her dead mum’s benefits, has been given six months to raise some cash to pay it back.
Nistorova was warned that if she was genuinely sorry she would spend the next six months saving up money to repay her illegal claims – and if she didn’t she would face prison.
Mum-of-four Nistorova was crying in the dock after she was spared from immediate custody after admitting to three counts of fraud at Gloucester Crown Court.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC adjourned sentencing the 42-year-old, of St James Street, Tredworth until October 9.
Prosecutor David Maunder said Nistorova’s mum, Jolena Fedakova, had moved to Vauxhall Street in Gloucester and was legitimately claiming housing benefits, income support and pension credits.
But she returned to Slovakia and died there in December 2008, aged 61.
Nistorova not only failed to tell authorities, but continued to take money out of her Lloyds TSB bank account in Eatstgate Street for another five years.
Mr Maunder said in January 2011 someone signed a new document from the Department of Work and Pensions saying they were Ms Fedakova.
He said: “She had been using her mother’s debit card and her account.
“On interview she admitted her mother had gone back to Slovakia and died.
“She said she was upset at the time and very sorry.”
But Judge Tabor questioned her reasons for the con. He replied: “She remained upset for six years?
“This is £120 per week that she was not entitled to from the tax payer.
“It is £6,000 per year and not a penny of which she was entitled to.”
Defending, Ranjit Lallie said when the family moved to England in 2004 they all lived together and Ms Fedakova had continued to financially support her daughter.
He told the court: “She has had this hanging over her head. She is clearly devastated.”
He added three of her children would be put into care if she was sent to jail on Friday.
Judge Tabor said he found himself in a “very difficult position” because if he jailed her, it would then mean the state looking after he children.
He told her: “You now express great remorse for stealing £36,000 of tax payers' money - it is a little bit late in the day.
“I have no idea whether that remorse is because you have been caught stealing or because you are genuinely sorry for what you have done.
“I will provide a test to ascertain whether your remorse is genuine. I will defer sentencing for six months so you can save as much money as possible to back to the statement.
“That will tell me how genuine you are and how sorry you are.
“If I come to the conclusion you are not the slightest bit sorry I will send you to prison.”
She will return to the same court on October 9 for sentencing.