Radio Sandwell Local News

Xtra Factor guitarist escapes jail after admitting benefit fraud

2014-11-15 22:16:17

Joseph RossJoseph Ross

A star Black Country guitarist due to tour with Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has been exposed as benefits cheat after performing on the Xtra Factor.

Inspectors spotted Joseph Ross, from Walsall, playing for JLS on the ITV show, despite signing on three years ago.

The musician, who last year was presented with the Black Entertainmet, Film, Fashion, Television and Arts Excellence Award for his role in the music industry for 26 years, fraudulently claimed almost £23,000, reports have stated.

Yet earned thousands of pounds and has also performed on Strictly Come Dancing and with James Brown, Girls Aloud and Lionel Ritchie and claims to have been hiired by Beckhams, among others, on his website.

Ross, a divorced father-of-five admitted an offence of making a false statement to the Department of Work and Pensions, and two offences of failing to notify Walsall Council of a change in his circumstances.

The benefit cheat was given a prison sentence of 26 weeks, suspended for 12 months with supervision, for claiming Jobseekers Allowance, council tax and housing benefit he was not meant to have between June 2011 and October 2013.

He must also complete the 20-day benefit fraud workbook course, pay £85 costs and £80 victims' surcharge.

Inspectors were tipped off that Ross could be seen on Youtube performing with JLS.

His lawyer told Walsall Magistrates Court that he was now attempting to pay the taxpayer back but has managed a measly £400 so far

Other stars the guitarist has strummed along next to include R Kelly, Lemar, S Club 7, Gareth Gates, Eternal, MKS, Gabrielle, Joss Stone, Patti LaBelle, Jamelia, Coolio, Notorious BIG, Shola Ama, and Mark Morrison.

He also claims to have performed at the London 2012 Olympics.

Ross told Walsall Magistrates Court he had financial difficulties and was going through a divorce.

But the court heard that he received at total of £22,810 in overpayments that he was not entitled to.

It was also told that Ross used the money he had earned to pay his band and divorce fees.

Ross's next project will be with X Factor judge Cheryl in March.

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