BENEFITS cheats in West Somerset are being warned that if they try to con the system they face court action.

The warning follows the conviction of an Exford man who cheated the public purse by lodging false claims with West Somerset Council.

Richard Hunt, 40, of Tudballs, Exford, admitted fraudulently claiming £2,602 in housing benefit and council tax rebate from West Somerset Council.

He was charged with failing to declare an increase in his income and that his wife had started work during his claim for benefit.

He appeared before Taunton Magistrates’ Court last week and was given a 12-month community order, told to carry out 40 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £60 victim surcharge and £95 costs.

As well as being sentenced, Hunt will also be responsible for repaying the overpayment of benefit.

Cllr Kate Kravis, West Somerset Council’s lead member for finance, said: “We are keen to help and support those in genuine need.

“However, we will prosecute anyone who claims benefits dishonestly, defrauding the public purse.

“It is not fair that taxpayers pay for benefit theft. We will continue working hard to prevent benefit theft and bring those committing it to justice.”