A woman jailed for pocketing nearly £20,000 in false benefits and stealing a further £30,000 from vulnerable people has been ordered to pay a token fine of £1.
Maria Pridmore, 36, was sentenced to three years in prison in August after she admitted fraudulently taking more than £16,000 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support while carrying out Walter Mitty style frauds against friends and relatives.
She was also found guilty of 19 counts of fraud and theft against four women – including one with dementia – who she befriended and stole the bank details of.
But Judge Simon Hirst ruled Pridmore, who appeared via video link from Drake Hall prison in Staffordshire, did not have the assets to pay the money back to her victims or the state and ordered her to pay back a nominal sum of £1.
The former drug addict hit the headlines in 2012 after she gave birth to a “miracle” daughter after suffering 14 miscarriages, a stillbirth and the death of a baby son.
But at Pridmore’s sentencing hearing in August, Lincoln Crown Court heard that she had been pretending to be a lone-parent with dependent children to receive state aid but failed to declare when she had moved or was living with her partner.
It also emerged that in 2013 she had stolen over £14,000 from Katherine Saunders by linking Ms Saunders’ credit card to her Paypal account.
She set up an account with an online fashion retailer under Ms Saunders’ name and bought more than £250 in items and withdrew a further £2,850 from the bank by pretending to be her.
Pridmore also targeted dementia sufferer Angela Bird, 78, after taking her home at Spalding police station in 2015.
She later befriended Ms Bird’s daughter-in-law after claiming her mother had just died and she was working as a Macmillan nurse. She then took Ms Bird to the bank in order to steal £550.
In the same year Pridmore also stole £2,800 from Davina Crocker, 84, using her ATM card.
She also used it to buy £500 worth of goods and after Ms Crocker was moved to a care home she continued to use her details to transfer over £5,000 out of her account – even using the card to pay for a £60 return taxi fare for a court appearance, the Lincolnshire Echo reported.
But Judge Simon Hirst ruled Pridmore, who appeared via video link from Drake Hall prison in Staffordshire, did not have the assets to pay the money back to her victims and ordered her to pay back a nominal sum of £1.
Pridmore, from Holbeach in Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to seven counts of benefit fraud, 19 charges of theft and fraud against the women and to several other shop thefts, obstructing a police officer and stealing her father’s flatpack kitchen furniture days after his wife’s death in April 2015.