Playing the system.

COUPLES who pretend they are living apart so they can claw in more benefits are costing the taxpayer more than £3million per week.
These “phantom” singles were overpaid an estimated total of £182million last year, according to the latest government ­figures.These “phantom” singles were overpaid an estimated tot

Bogus singles last year raked in £74million they were not entitled to in income support, another £60million in housing benefit, £31million in jobseeker’s allowance and another £17million in pension credit.

Research has shown families can often be as much as £100 a week ­better off if they live apart rather than sharing a home.

So couples often pretend their relationship has broken down in order to cheat the system. In one of the worst cases husband and wife Zoe and Marcus Bradbrook, of Hove, East Sussex, admitted fleecing tax­payers of £160,000 by making false claims over 10 years.

Mrs Bradbrook, 31, claimed her ­husband was her landlord and she was paying rent to him. She also claimed she was a lone mother while she was living with her husband for more than 10 years.

He was jailed for 20 months while his wife was given a suspended sentence and ordered to do community service.

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