Brothers used forged documents to claim benefits in name of unsuspecting family members
Two brothers used forged documents to claim benefit handouts in the name of unsuspecting family members.
Ian and Josh Amess used fake documentation to get employment support allowance, using the identities of three of their relatives.
The siblings used similar forgeries in a scam to get phones from a Vodafone account, which was also set up in the name of a family member.
And they got money back on "unauthorised transactions", after they spent the cash themselves, from a bank account they had set up in the name of a relation.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the pair caused losses of over £10,000 in the frauds, which were in 2015 and 2016.
One victim whose details were used suffered financial problems as a result of activity on his credit file.
Ian Amess, 39, of Welcham Close, Loughbrough, Leicestershire and Josh Amess, 26 Falla Park Crescent, Felling, Gateshead, were both convicted of conspiracy to defraud.
They have both been sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, with curfew and unpaid work requirements.
Miss Recorder Watson told them: "Employment Support Allowance is a payment for people unable to work due to disability. You both know that because you both had been, at various points, in receipt of ESA or PIP.
"Often, the people applying for these benefits are vulnerable, by way of disability.
"You used your own knowledge in order to exploit the system and find a loophole. "
The judge added: "I am satisfied, in both cases, you were instrumental in carrying out these offences, you had leading roles, you were equally responsible for the roles you took.
"The offences were detrimental to and undermined the welfare benefit system, which is there to help and not be abused."
The court heard the brothers were also involved in using fake documentation to take out pay day loans.
Their pal Andrew McLaughlin drafted in Chloe Dodsworth and another person to go into a Money Shop with the forgeries to try and get cash.
McLaughlin, of 26, Shelley Avenue, Boldon Colliery, conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to a 12 month community order with 250 hours unpaid work and £250 costs.
Dodsworth, 23, of Auckland Road, Hebburn, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to a 12 month community order with rehabilitation requirements.
The court heard all four have stayed out of trouble since the offences and have moved on with their lives in positive ways.