Law student who claimed benefits while at uni is given even more work to do

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By Jessy Howard on

This is what happens when you don’t cancel jobseeker’s allowance after starting law school…


Having trouble getting by on your student loan? A cash-strapped University of East London law student topped hers up by fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in benefits.

Chapy Empochon-Tsif’s lawyer dream is hanging by a thread after she pleaded guilty to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions that her financial circumstances changed when she started receiving a student loan.

A single mother, Empochon-Tsif began claiming jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefit legally in 2010. But after starting her law degree in September 2012, she became ineligible to some of this cash. Nevertheless, the 23 year-old continued to claim the benefits as before.

And for a while the money kept coming: between September 2012 and April 2013 Empochon-Tsif received £1,607.14 in jobseeker’s allowance and £2,098.57 in housing benefit.

The fraud caught up with her eventually though, and on Thursday she was sentenced to 180 hours of community service which is to be completed over 12 months. Empochon-Tsif was also ordered to pay a £60 fine and costs of £100.

The Ilford Recorder reports that the student’s solicitor told the court that she had at first denied the charge as she feared a conviction would endanger her lawyer dream, but before the start of the trial changed her plea to guilty.

Although a criminal offence isn’t an automatic bar to becoming a lawyer — for example, there is a man who took part in an armed robbery who is currently practising as a solicitor — the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) would, according to its handbook, require evidence of exceptional circumstances to admit individuals who have been convicted of fraud-related offences.