Clerk who siphoned DWP cash

A woman siphoned off money meant for people claiming job seeker’s allowance and channelled it into her own account.

It happened between February and October last year when Diane Graham, 36, was an administration officer at the Department for Work and Pensions

Graham, of Illingworth Road, Halifax, made as many as 10 cash transfers totalling £1,428 into her personal account.

She was eventually caught after an internal computer search while she was on leave.

Calderdale magistrates gave her four months in custody, suspended for a year.

Lisa Beedle, prosecuting, told magistrates that Graham transferred money from people who had recently stopped claiming benefits, but whose file had not been deleted from the system. Mark Baxendale, defending, said Graham’s actions were not those of a confidence trickster and she had not sought to live a lavish lifestyle.

“The motivation for this was financial but not greed in the sense of a lavish holiday or a speedboat.

“She took the money because she was looking after a friend’s children for a period of months while her friend was in hospital.

“She was struggling to make ends meet.”

As well as her suspended sentence, Graham must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and must pay back the amount she took in full. She must also pay court costs of £85.