A RIPLEY mum has told how her life has been turned upside down after becoming the victim of mistaken identity when officials confused her with a convicted criminal.
Mum-of-five Julie Roberts, 40, from Almond Avenue, says the mix-up is making life a misery for her and her young family.
The confusion happened after the Department for Work and Pensions database wrongly showed she had served time in prison.
They mixed her up with a woman with the same name and date of birth, who has served time in prison.
The department said Julie had claimed benefits while in Holloway Prison, London, for a week in February and therefore was not entitled to a month of ‘roll on’ payments she was entitled to in the first month of her new job as an office worker.
The first Julie knew about the mix-up was when she received a letter demanding she repay the benefits.
Julie, who works for Card Protection Plan in Chesterfield, has been left distraught as she tries to sort out the mix-up, fearing her good name will be left in tatters if records are not put right and wrongly show she has been in prison. She also says she cannot afford to repay the amount on her 20 hour a week job.
Julie, who has now been sent several letters from Amber Valley Housing and Job centre Plus, demanding she repay a month of benefits totalling several hundred pounds said: “When I first heard about it I thought it was amusing, but as the days went on it dawned on me how serious it was.
“On their system it showed up I was in prison but I have never been! I must have sounded ridiculous whenever I called them up and tried to tell them there had been a mistake.”
“Every day for weeks I was on the phone trying to sort it out – it got to the point where every time I got home there was a brown envelope waiting for me asking for money.”
Julie, whose children are aged seven to 15, has now asked Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills for help.
He said he is looking into the case and that the Department for Work and Pensions was investigating the situation.
Mr Mills said the department said it is looking into her case and has apologised for the mix-up.
l Has anything like Julie’s case of misaken identity ever happened to you – if so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.