For years, a woman was receiving over $230,000 in taxpayer benefits, claiming she couldn’t even afford to buy food. However, as soon as the police saw what she posted on Facebook, they wasted no time in arresting her and canceling her free ride.
For 5 years, 32-year-old Carina Reid led a successful career as a model, posing next to luxury cars and at the openings of upscale boutiques. This is likely why it was so bizarre when she suddenly fell into a pit of financial despair, losing everything she owned and struggling to even pay for meals. Of course, it didn’t take long for the truth to surface.
While claiming to be utterly destitute, Reid was living in a lavish UK apartment on Chelsea’s sought-after King’s Road. Incredibly, she had secured the flat by putting up a deposit of $25,800, which is a feat for even well-off individuals. This garnered the suspicion that maybe the struggling model wasn’t being entirely honest.
Despite the fact that she had an apartment in West London, Reid accumulated more than $64,000 in housing benefits, which was the first of several red flags. However, once the authorities discovered what the young beauty was posting to Facebook, they acted quickly to ensure that she could no longer collect her welfare checks.
According to the Daily Mail, Reid was arrested and sentenced to 3 years in prison after the Isleworth Crown Court determined that she laid claim to $232,564 in benefits, which she used to fund an extraordinarily lavish lifestyle. Reid was only caught after investigators discovered posts she had made of herself on vacation in numerous countries, taking helicopter rides, sipping champagne, and dining at the most expensive gourmet restaurants.
Although Reid had a successful career as a model-for-hire and owned a beauty business called Enhance Medica, she filed for benefits from Kensington and Chelsea Council, claiming that she didn’t earn enough from her work, according to Evening Standard. However, not only was her business booming but so were her benefits.
A profile of Reid on the Enhance website said she was a “senior medical aesthetician” who had “worked with a wide range of clientele, from VIP film stars, TV and radio presenters as well as on magazine shoots and celebrity events.”
Reid unwisely documented her spending sprees on Facebook, including a trip to Dubai, where she purchased an apartment for $150,000 in taxpayer benefits. Eventually, she had racked up over $230,000 in welfare, which she split up into 19 separate bank accounts in an attempt to avoid getting caught.
Reid’s taxpayer-funded adventures took her all over the world, including luxury holidays in Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, France, and Hong Kong. Of course, upon returning home, Reid lamented that she had to accept food from her local mosque in order to stay afloat. At the same time, she was bragging on Facebook under the moniker Cara Delmonte about her lavish spending.
In February 2014, she went skiing in Davos and posted: “It’s bloody hard. I’m aching but surviving. Might give snowboarding a whirl too.”
During a trip to Macau, Hong Kong, she wrote: “Getting over the pool party yesterday so relaxing and chilling with millionnaires drinking champagne and Pimms!”
Ironically, Reid managed to obtain a mortgage based on genuine tax returns, which showed that her beauty business was thriving. Unfortunately, it took the council’s anti-fraud squad far too long to discover her scam.
Reid ultimately pleaded guilty to 9 charges of dishonestly claiming housing and tax benefits, earning her a 3-year prison sentence. To date, her case records one of the most severe sentences ever to be handed down in London for welfare fraud.
Andreja Oblak, 31, a barista at a coffee shop opposite Enhance’s outlet in Old York Road, said: “I can’t believe it. She always seemed so polite and sophisticated. I can’t believe she was such a scammer and she was ripping us all off to pay for her lifestyle.”
A neighbour at her block in Kings Road said: “It’s a shock. We barely saw her because of her jetset lifestyle. She was always partying and just gave the impression of being very successful.”
Despite her sophisticated lifestyle, the council determined that she had only been overpaid around $66,000, suggesting that the rest of the benefits were deserved. Still, despite her prison sentence, none of the money has been recovered nor is it expected to be fully repaid.
Although Reid was put into prison, many feel that her punishment wasn’t enough. In fact, some have pointed out that she is still living for free on the taxpayers’ dime, though she’s no longer jet-setting around the world.