A FRAUDSTER "invented" children in order to claim thousands of pounds in benefits he wasn't entitled to, a court heard.

Craig Pickett, of Bell Court in Wrexham, appeared at Mold Crown Court for sentence on Thursday.

The 25-year-old had previously admitted five counts of fraud, all of which involved him making false representations to the DWP on dates in 2019 and 2020.

Laura Knightly, prosecuting, told the court that the offences arose out of Pickett's online applications for Universal Credit.

As part of the process, applicants can receive an advance payment if they are in a situation of hardship, the court heard.

And over the five occasions he applied for the benefit, Pickett received £6,304.31 which he wasn't entitled to.

He did that by lying about his housing costs and even inventing three "fictional children" in order to "improve" his claims.

All of the claims were "fraudulent from the outset," Ms Knightly said and while there was "some element of planning," they were not necessarily sophisticated crimes.

It was noted that Pickett has been repaying the sum, with some £1,294.81 outstanding.

James Coutts, defending, conceded there was some planning but said the names of the children he gave were "picked out of the heat of the moment."

He continued: "It's hard to fathom the thought process that led to this - how he could have acted so stupidly.

The Leader:

"He was always going to be discovered and that should have been obvious to him.

"This was a period of eight or nine months when he was out of employment - he should and could have turned to his support network."

Mr Coutts said his client had been using the money to pay for living expenses and hadn't been living the "high life."

"He looks back and can't believe he acted in this way," he said.

Judge Timothy Petts handed the defendant a six month custodial sentence, but suspended it for a year with three conditions.

Those are that he must undertake 200 hours of unpaid work, 15 rehabilitation activity days and a thinking skills programme.

The Judge ordered him to pay the outstanding balance as compensation, as well as a £115 victim surcharge and £640 costs.