Benefit cheat Patricia Blankson claimed £13,000 even though she owned four properties.

The £300-a-day IT consultant failed to tell the authorities about the homes she had bought with her late husband, St Albans crown court heard today..

Blankson, 49, of Kindersley Way, Abbots Langley pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation over a 60 week period from 2009.

Prosecutor Alex Kettle-Williams said she received a total overpayment of £13,085.94. Around £11,500 was Job Seeker's Allowance and £1,500 Council Tax Benefit.

She said Blankson had failed to reveal her properties on benefits' forms and when she spoke to an official over the phone.

Ian Stebbings, defending, said Blankson had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He said: "She had bought the properties together with her late husband. The homes were under repossession orders. At the time she had many debts.

"She has gone to see the National Debt Helpline.

"Coming before the court has filled her with trepidation. She has come before a court for the first time and she is scared stiff."

He said she had borrowed money and had managed to repay £8,000 of the outstanding amount and had set up a £100 a month standing order to clear the rest of the money she had claimed.

Mr Stebbings said she is now working as an IT contractor for Jaguar Rover in Coventry, earning £300 a day.

Recorder Leslie Cuthbert ordered her to complete 120 hours unpaid work saying the offence was serious enough for a Community Order.

Blankson will face a confiscations hearing at a later date.