A model who claimed that she was so poor she needed to get free food from her local mosque was arrested after investigators discovered her glamorous lifestyle through her posts on social media.
According to the Evening Standard, Carina Reid, 32, claimed more than $65,000 in housing and council tax benefits to help fund trips to Hong Kong, Dubai, Spain, Portugal, France and Switzerland, as well as meals at high-end restaurants.
Reid, who works as a beautician along with being a model, told a council that she did not have any savings and took no vacations. She said that she made so little from her beauty business that she accepted free food and drink from a local mosque.
On her business’ website, however, Reid claimed that she had a “VIP film star” clientele, including David Schwimmer and Michael Buble. The site claimed that the business, which is currently based in London, planned to expand to Dubai and Los Angeles.
Between 2009 and 2014, Reid reportedly went on a number of luxury vacations while receiving benefits. The trips were uncovered by council fraud inspectors who looked through her social media accounts after becoming suspicious.
Reid’s Facebook page was under the pseudonym Cara Delmonte. She posted photos there of her drinking champagne and dining at London’s top restaurants. Other photos from 2014 show her taking a helicopter trip at the Cannes Film Festival in France and relaxing at a rooftop pool in Lisbon, Portugal.
According to Daily Mail, Reid purchased her flat with a deposit of more than $25,000. She received a mortgage based on her true tax returns, which revealed that her beauty business was successful.
The 32-year-old also reportedly sent more than $150,000 abroad to purchase property in Dubai.
Reid was sentenced to three years in prison after she pleaded guilty to eight charges of dishonestly claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit and one charge of making a false representation to the council.
She reportedly failed to declare that she had more than $240,000 in savings in 19 separate bank accounts.
Reid told the court that she did not believe she lived an extravagant lifestyle, adding that some of her trips abroad were paid for by friends or significant others, while other trips were for business.
“Money that was intended for those in greatest need was instead dishonestly used by Carina Reid to fund a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense,” said council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown. “I am very pleased that following our investigation, which uncovered her real circumstances, the court has handed down this custodial sentence.”