CELEBRITY Big Brother star Chloe Goodman’s sister Lauryn insists her lavish lifestyle “wasn’t funded by the state” but were in fact family holidays that weren’t paid for by Lauryn after she avoided jail for falsely claiming £21,000 benefits yesterday.
Lauryn, Chloe’s older sister, wept as she was spared jail at Hove Crown Court on Thursday.
EDDIE MITCHELL 07771605974 Lauryn, left, pictured with her sister Chloe as they leave Hove Crown Court yesterday
She had wrongly claimed the large sum in housing benefit and income support between 2013-2016 while signed off work from her job.
The court was told that during those years, Lauryn, 28, had led a life of luxury.
It included £3,500 flights to Las Vegas with Chloe, who starred in MTV’s Ex on the Beach in 2014 and Celebrity Big Brother in 2015, and a ski trip to France.
Yesterday, Lauryn was handed a seven month jail sentence suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £670 costs.
The Mega Agency Lauryn, left, attends a showbiz event with her CBB star sister, Chloe
Speaking exclusively to Sun Online today, she tells how she was devastated to be signed off work after doctors found tumours in her body, and insists the benefit claim was a genuine mistake due complicated forms by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Lauryn says: “The tumours were found in my kidney and my ischial tuberosity [sit bone] in 2013.
“I had to have a lot of time off work for operations – I’ve had 13 in total – and because of the location of my tumour, I couldn’t even sit down.
Alamy The 28-year-old works at HSBC but was signed off sick when doctors discovered tumours
“Even though I tried to carry on working, my employer decided it was best I take sick leave.
“I was covered by an insurance policy which meant I would get around £300 a month – not even enough to cover rent.
“I didn’t want to ask family or friends for financial help as it’s embarrassing and you feel like a failure.”
Lauryn was advised to speak to the Department of Pensions and Benefits about additional financial support.
“It was soul destroying as I had worked since I was 16,” she says.
Instagram / @lauryngoodman91 The court heard she led a ‘lavish lifestyle’ – but she furiously denies this was due to benefits
She also paid the entire sum back when she learned of her mistake
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“Then they sent me a load of forms which were so confusing. No one talks you through it or tells you if you have completed everything properly, so I was ticking boxes which I thought were right.
“The department also tried to get me onto other benefits, which I declined.”
A few years later, the department contacted Lauryn to tell her she’d been overpaid – by a whopping £21,000.
At this time, Lauryn was still spending a lot of time in hospital having her tumours operated on.
Getty – Contributor Pictured here with Casey Batchelor. Lauryn is well known on the showbiz scene alongside her sister
She attends parties but has been in very ill health
“It was the most stressful time of my life”, she says
“I gave them every bit of information I could to help work out what I was entitled to and I’ve paid back every single penny that I was overpaid.”
The court was shown snippets of Lauryn’s seemingly lavish lifestyle from her Instagram page, including holidays with her sister and luxury beauty treatments.
“They were family holidays I was invited on and were paid for by family,” says Lauryn. “Also the beauty treatments were in fact administered by my sister Chloe who owns her own clinic, free of charge.”
But Lauryn explains: “There has been a lot printed about me living a lavish lifestyle, but what hasn’t been told is that this wasn’t funded by the state.
PA:Press Association Sister Chloe entered Celebrity Big Brother after making a name for herself on Ex On The Beach
“There was evidence to prove it, so it got thrown out of court – basically, Instagram isn’t reality.
“I am an honest person and I seriously had no idea I was overclaiming. It’s been stressful and horrible to be labelled a benefit cheat.”
She is now back in work, but her medical condition is ongoing and potentially life-long.
While she is in physical pain at work, she now feels she doesn’t have much option.
Lauryn says she has been contacted by others in a similar situation as her who have been left confused by benefit claim forms.
She adds: “It’s such a confusing system that needs to be simplified. When you are ill, you are at your weakest and being presented with these confusing documents.
“I am so embarrassed but I hope that by telling my truth, others benefit-seekers will look at their sums, ask their family for help and make sure they aren’t being overpaid as it doesn’t fall on the DWP – it falls on you.”Lauryn received no payment for this interview
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