A WOMAN who cheated the council out of thousands of pounds by abusing a direct payments system has been convicted.

Bia Abdul, of Audley Street, Reading, is due to be sentenced at Reading Crown Court on January 16 after she was caught.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) uncovered the 45-year-old's 'large-scale' activity, whereby she would raise invoices to access funds to care for a family member.

Instead of using the money for the provision of caring for her disabled daughter, she extracted the funds - in excess of £60,000 - and used the money for other matters.

She was her daughter's carer and managed the payments on her behalf, going to great lengths to avoid being caught.

The direct payments system is for people who have been assessed as needing help from social services.

They have the option to arrange and pay for their own care and support services instead of receiving them directly from the local trust.

The council says lessons have been learned from this case and measures are now in place to help prevent others from abusing the system.

A spokesman for RBC said: “The crown court hearing was the culmination of a proactive council investigation, which successfully uncovered a large-scale fraud of the direct payments system.

“The council will not hesitate to investigate instances where fraud is suspected and - where necessary - prosecute.

"This prosecution is due to the hard work and diligence of the council’s Fraud and Investigation Team, who worked closely with Thames Valley Police, to gather the necessary evidence.

“We hope the prosecution and subsequent sentencing will serve as a warning to those who consider deliberately committing fraud.

“Since this case, the council has put in place an online account system which, as well as improving the service for clients, helps prevent the misuse of funds and enables officers to more easily identify any unusual spending activities.”

As well as facing four counts of fraud by false representations, Abdul was accused of concealing criminal property and three counts of furnishing false information.