She's even alleged to have shaved her own son's head in the hopes of tricking everyone.
A 36-year-old English woman appeared in court Wednesday over charges she bilked insurers out of £100,000 (roughly $150,000). Her scheme is alleged to have centered on her 9-year-old son, whom the woman reportedly claimed had cancer in order to receive benefits. The names of the woman and her family will remain sealed throughout the course of the proceedings.
"The essence really is that she informed a large number of schools, medical staff and authorities that her children were substantially ill. They were not able to take part in school activities because of the pressure she put them under," Gloucester prosecutor Peter Ashby said, according to a report in the Daily Mirror.
In total, the fraud is said to have been carried out over a seven-year span. The woman, who has five kids in total, resides with her family in the town of Berkeley, located in the southwestern English county of Gloucestershire. She stands accused of child cruelty, forgery and neglect as part of a 17-count indictment.
"She allegedly shaved her son's head and eyebrows to convince people that he was undergoing chemotherapy," Ashby also said, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
The years of alleged fraud were detected in an investigation by the British Department for Work and Pensions. The woman first appeared in the Gloucester Crown Court on Aug. 17 for related offenses and will next appear before the court in the coming week.
With health care a topic of hot debate on both sides of the Atlantic, the introduction of new legislation in the U.S. last year has coincided with a spike in fraud in this country. According to a report in USA Today, the Obama administration has paired the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act with increased vigilance for fraud. And the first eight months of 2011 has seen an 85 percent spike in health care fraud convictions from last year. That translates to 903 total charges, according to statistics culled by the non-partisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
"That's just a stunning number when you see it in the first eight months," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said of the news. "We're just going to build on this model, and we're going to hold those responsible who are stealing from the government."
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