A WOMAN invented new tenants for her home and wrote to Selby District Council pretending to be the fictitious occupants to get out of paying more than £3,000 in council tax.

Jackie Mooring, now of Beck Close, Howden, was caught out after council tax officers at Selby council spotted similarities in handwriting and phrasing in four letters they had received from various people who had supposedly moved into Mooring’s then home in South Duffield Road, Osgodby, between 2011 and 2013.

Mooring, 55, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation at York Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The court heard the four council-tax accounts created for the fictitious tenants Mooring invented ran up a total of £3,447.33 in tax debts, which Selby District Council’s council tax office had written off as unrecoverable.

Kelly Hamblin, prosecuting for Selby District Council, told the court that council staff became suspicious about the house and contacted the landlords, who told them Mooring and her family had lived in the house since 2007.

Whenever a council tax recovery action had begun, a new occupier would be reported to the council, she added.

Enforcement officers also checked their correspondence from the four other people who had been named as tenants and found significant similarities between the letters.

Defence solicitor Vicky Latmam said her client had moved into the Osgodby house in 2007, but quickly accrued more than £1,000 of council-tax debt.

The family also faced a significant HMRC tax bill for Mooring’s self-employed husband, and the fraud which followed was motivated by their financial hardship. Miss Latmam said: “This was an extremely expensive house to run. It was an old house, and badly insulated.”

Magistrate Judith Luscombe, sitting with two colleagues, gave Mooring a 12-month community order and told her to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work.

The magistrates also told Mooring to pay back the £3,447.33 along with £560 in costs.