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£100,000 on eBay…then off to jail

A fraudster has been jailed for selling £100,000 of goods on eBay while claiming benefits.

Barry McNaughton financed a lavish lifestyle by selling DVDs, electrical equipment and even a Ford Transit van on the Internet auction site.

But while his business thrived, he claimed £16,700 in income support, housing benefit and council tax relief because he was ‘too depressed to work’.

When police raided his house following a tip-off, they found two £5000 Rolex watches, a Tag Heuer watch, £1,300 of jewellery, a new plasma flat-screen TV, a Sony computer and Smeg kitchen appliances. He had also hidden six bottles of Champagne under his bed.

McNaughton, 37, was jailed for six months and ordered to pay back all the falsely claimed benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which brought the prosecution, said it had never seen a benefits cheat make so much off eBay.

Anti-fraud minister James Plaskitt added: ‘Our investigators have more powers than ever before. Our message is clear – don’t do it. There are no ifs, no buts – we will catch you.’

McNaughton from Portsmouth, Hampshire, was originally arrested for handling stolen goods in September 2005 after police and fraud squad officers raided his house.

But it emerged the items were not stolen. Instead, McNaughton had been going to markets to buy cheap goods and sell them on.

He admitted three charges at Portsmouth Crown Court.

The Inland Revenue later said it would not prosecute people who sold a few items on eBay and judgement was made on a case by case basis.

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