A HOTEL owner from Bridlington has been warned she could be jailed for eight months if she does not find cash after ripping off the taxpayer for £11,525.
Hotel boss Tracey Bottomley, 48, pretended to be jobless and claimed cash for two years saying she was hard up when she had actually inherited the £380,000 Dulverton Court Hotel in Victoria Road, Bridlington.
Bottomley failed to declare she had been left the property in a will in May 2006 after her partner died.
Investigators for the Department for Work and Pensions became suspicious when they found she was a long-standing income support claimant and apparently trying to make a go of the hotel.
At Hull Crown Court last Wednesday Barrister Simon Clegg said the investigation revealed Bottomley had originally made genuine claims for benefit from March 1999. However, the claims only became fraudulent when she inherited the 14-bedroom family hotel.
Bottomley of Victoria Road pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to notify a change of circumstances when she appeared at court in February this year and was given a community order and three-month curfew.
Bottomley appeared at court following an application under the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act to make sure she does not benefit from fraud.
Mr Clegg said following negotiations with her defence it was possible to say she had benefited to the tune of £11,525 and had £380,005 in assets.
The three-storey, double-fronted licensed hotel is now for sale.
Mrs Bottomley’s barrister Andrew Wilson said: “She in the process of attempting to sell the hotel. It is not now running.
“There has been a difficulty selling it. The price has dropped vastly since the defendant received it.”
Mr Wilson said if the sale of the hotel was to take longer than six months he may have to ask the court for a longer period to repay the £11,525 she owed.
Recorder Rachim Singh told Bottomley: “You appeared before me in February when you were given a community order. I said at the time there would be a proceeds of crime investigation. I now find you have benefited to the sum of £11,525 and you have assets of £380,005.
“I am going to make a confiscation order for it to be paid in six months. You must make sure that money is paid in the next six months, if not then the period in prison you must serve is eight months.”