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Banana ordered to carry out community service

NO DEAL: Banana won £95k on the show but defrauded the taxman and her local council

A JUDGE has ruled that a game show winner guilty of fraud must do 215 hours of unpaid work.

Caroline Banana, from Stoke-on-Trent, admitted to fraudulently claiming over £6,100 in housing and council tax benefits and income support.

The 40-year-old managed to win £95,000 on Channel 4 game show Deal or No Deal, but also failed to declare her prize-money to the inland revenue.

Additionally, she failed to inform authorities that she had found a job, which would have made her ineligible to some of the benefits she had been receiving.

The false benefit claims were made between March 28, 2011 and May 13, 2012, a period in which she had found work from various employers, including a chemists and doctors’ surgery.

The unpaid work she has been ordered to carry out comes under a 12-month community order sentence she received at the North Staffordshire Justice Centre.

When handing out the sentence, District Judge David Taylor told Banana that she herself had caused the media circus surrounding the case, and that “any honest person” would have declared the game show winnings.

“Any offence of benefit fraud is never victimless,” he added.

“It harms every member of society who works and pays tax with the misfortune of having to claim benefit.”

Banana must now also repay the monies she fraudulently claimed – she must pay £2,517 to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and £3,794 to Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Her solicitor David Green said his client is set to sell a £60,000 property in Turkey she had bought with the prize-money.

Green added that Banana had shown “all remorse and shame”.

The law stipulates that anyone must inform the DWP if their bank balance exceeds £16,000 because of a windfall or inheritance.

Paul Shotton, a Stoke-on-Trent council cabinet member for finance, said: “We take a very dim few on those who defraud the council, and we will prosecute wherever appropriate.”

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