Nasrin Harrison Jones, of Melville Street in Lochgelly, appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Jones, 43, admitted that she obtained £21,931, fraudulently, in child tax credits by falsely declaring her four children still lived with her, between June 6, 2016 and August 13, 2018.
She also admitted also fraudulently claiming £7,500 in housing benefit as she knowingly failed to notify Fife Council employees of the change on circumstances, between December 19, 2016 and May 27, 2018.
The Procurator Fiscal Depute told the court that an anonymous allegation was received that the accused was fraudulently claiming benefits and investigations were carried out which confirmed that none of her children were living in her house.
Jones’ defence lawyer said: “At the time of the offending she was going through a difficult time in her life and she was not thinking straight.
"She knows the onus was on her to inform the DWP of the change in her circumstances and she accepts this should have been done. She takes full blame for this and is remorseful. She is deeply ashamed.”
Jones’ lawer added that her client was paying the money back, although this was in small amounts due to her financial circumstances.
However, Sheriff McFarlane told Jones she was ‘very close to going to prison’ as ‘£29,000 had been stolen from the state’: “I find it utterly incredible that for two years, you did not notice money coming into your bank account that you were not entitled to.
“To sit here and blame the social work department for them not telling you that you should not be claiming anymore is utterly reprehensible.
“You are 43 years old.
“You signed the form, saw money coming into your account and you have spent it and now paying it back at a rate that will never be repaid. It’s like an interest-free loan.”
Sheriff McFarlane decided not to send Jones to prison, but instead placed her on a restriction of liberty order requiring her to be in her home address from 5.00pm to 5.00am seven days a week for eight months. She warned that if she breached the order, she would go to jail.