A fraudster who made up an elaborate story to cheat the taxman has been ordered to pay the money back and carry out community service.

Shida Khobbakht, of Torrington Park, North Finchley, forged a tenancy agreement to claim more than £9,000 in housing benefit.

The 28-year-old was ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service, pay £1,000 in costs and repay the money she claimed after pleading guilty to supplying a false housing benefit application.

Barnet Borough Council’s anti-fraud team began their investigation after receiving an anonymous tip off that she had never lived in the property she was claiming benefit for.

The letting agent confirmed the tenancy agreement had been forged and the property was being rented by someone else, so her claim was immediately cancelled.

Khobbakht was interviewed but told investigators she had found the property online - and said the other tenant was her boyfriend.

But she said she did not know the name of the landlord and paid £800 of rent in cash to a man she would meet outside the letting agent, but could provide no receipt.

Khobbakht was unable to offer an explanation as to why she found a property online that was already being rented by her boyfriend, but accepted her account sounded strange.

Barnet Council leader Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “This was a very calculated attempt to cheat the taxpayer out of a sizable sum of money.

“This investigation once again shows that those who attempt to cheat the system will ultimately face being dealt with by the courts.”