Birkenhead Magistrates’ Court heard that Sally Pryzbeck, 32, moved out of her apartment in Village Court, Dean Road in Wallasey on 8 July 2013 to move into the Big Brother House.
She appeared on the show under the name of Sallie Axl and never moved back into the Village Court apartment when she left the programme. But she continued to be paid housing benefit.
The Department for Work and Pensions carried out a check on her housing benefit claim and discovered that she hadn’t been living in the apartment since July 2013 and had moved into her mother’s house in Wallasey when she left the show.
The investigation revealed that she’d failed to inform Wirral Borough Council of the change in her circumstances and, as a result, had been overpaid £12,349.82 in housing benefit.
Ms Pryzbeck told investigators that she’d claimed housing benefit because she’d separated from her partner and was a single parent living on a low income.
She pleaded guilty to a charge of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances, affecting entitlement to social security benefit at an earlier hearing.
Today (19 February 2019) she was sentenced at Birkenhead Magistrates’ Court by District Judge Sanders who said she “should be ashamed” of taking tax payers money in the way she had. She was said at court today to be remorseful about what she had done.
Pryzbeck must pay back the amount she over claimed in full, do 200 hours of unpaid work in the community, pay costs and a victim surcharge of £80.
Leanne Kennedy of Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service’s Fraud Unit, said: “This is a substantial amount of money that was paid directly into Ms Pryzbeck’s bank account over a number of years.
“She must have been aware that the money was still being paid to her despite the fact that her circumstances had changed completely. She was no longer living in the house that she was being paid housing benefit for.
“Ms Pryzbeck said she hadn’t done this intentionally and said that her head had been in a whirl during her time on the Big Brother TV show and immediately afterwards.
“She told investigators that she had regained control over her financial affairs now but that’s all a bit late.
“The public purse is under considerable pressure and there are many demands on it. When people cheat the system in this way, they are taking money away from the people that genuinely need the help and support of the State.
“Let this be a lesson to benefits cheats everywhere. What you are doing is not fair and you won’t get away with it.”