Co Antrim woman avoids jail in fake child maintenance scam
A Co Antrim woman who faked child maintenance letters to con her ex-partner out of thousands of pounds has avoided jail.
Susan Stevenson received a four-month suspended sentence for sending bogus documents demanding more money from the victim.
The 41-year-old, of Oaklands Crescent in Carrickfergus, was also ordered to pay back the full £2,200 she received and then spent.
Stevenson pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation over a three month period between September and December last year.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard she sent WhatsApp messages to a man with whom she has a child.
Prosecutors said the communications included documents, supposedly from the Child Support Agency, requesting that he should provide her with money.
Two payments of £2,200 in total were made.
Suspicions emerged when a third demand for £450 was sent in December.
Inquiries made with the child maintenance cast further doubt on the validity of the cash request, the court heard.
Stevenson was arrested after police were alerted and seized screenshots.
She admitted carrying out the fraud and spending all the money received from her former partner.
A defence lawyer said Stevenson had approached him about increasing his payments because she was "at the end of her tether" and facing credit card debts.
"She was stupid, regretted it and accepted immediately what she had done," he added.
Imposing four months imprisonment, District Judge Fiona Bagnall suspended the term for 18 months.
She also ordered Stevenson to compensate her victim in full, by paying back the £2,200 defrauded within 26 weeks.
Belfast Telegraph Digital