A FORMER benefits worker has been ordered to repay more than £10,000 resulting from a string of false claims.

Debra Lee, a Department of Work and Pensions income support processor at Burnley, hijacked the identities of 19 genuine claimants, the town’s crown court was told previously.

She made false applications for payments, between September and November 2017, which were then diverted into her own bank account.

An investigation was launched by the DWP and officials found a file, containing details of her handiwork, at her home in Old Lane, Shawforth, near Bacup.

Lee pleaded guilty, at an earlier hearing, to the fraud. She also admitted to a further offence of attempting to defraud the DWP out of £1,302, around the same time.

She was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence by Judge Sara Dodd and told to complete 100 hours community service and 25 days of rehabilitation activities.

Under a Proceeds of Crime Act application, she must now repay £10,222 or serve a four-month prison sentence in default. Judge Dodd was told there were available assets to cover the outstanding amount.

Lee said that she had carried out the fraud as she was in a lot of debt.