Couple forced to pay back £1 million

A COUPLE were ordered to repay almost £1 million they had defrauded from the public purse after fleeing to Spain to try and escape justice.

In one of Scotland’s biggest-ever confiscation orders, Anthony Kearney, 46, pictured right, and Donna McCafferty, 44, below, were ordered to pay £943,366 after being convicted of a housing benefit fraud in December 2009.

They admitted claiming benefit when they had more than £330,000 in offshore accounts. Kearney’s two frauds were worth £22,983.55 and £19,408.79, from the Department of Work and Pensions between December 1997 and March 2004.

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Kearney, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, also defrauded the Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank of £10,350 by using a false identity to take out credit card and breached section 327(1)(a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

McCafferty admitted housing benefit fraud totalling £13,003.25 between November 1999 and March 2004.

The pair were investigated in a complex operation undertaken by Strathclyde Police in late 2003 and early 2004. They fled to Spain and set up home in Alicante. They were arrested on an international warrant in the Costa Blanca in November 2008.