A mum-of-two who scooped £95,000 on TV game show Deal or No Deal before being pictured hugging host Noel Edmonds has been charged with benefit fraud.
Caroline Banana, 40, is accused of failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) of her huge win while continuing to claim £5,000 in a mixture of housing and council tax benefits.
Claimants must notify the authorities if their bank balance exceeds £16,000 either through a windfall or inheritance.
Zimbabwe-born Banana won £95,000 when she appeared on the Channel 4 show supported by her husband Michael, 48, in November 2011.
Millions of viewers watched as she took out the red box which she did not know contained £75,000, prompting the Banker to offer her £35,000 for it.
She rejected the offer and went on to accept £95,000.
She and Michael then posed for pictures with host Noel.
Speaking at the time, Banana, of Bentilee, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., said: “I felt a bit nervous as it was the moment I was waiting for.
“When I was walking on stage I could feel myself trembling but when I stood next to Noel I calmed down a little bit.
“I was thinking that I was not a lucky person but something made me carry on.”
A statement on the show’s website said: “Caroline can buy a home, allow Michael to finish his degree and help her family back in Africa.”
But just 14 months after her win, Banana faces prosecution by Stoke-on-Trent City Council accused of being a benefit cheat.
The council confirmed officials attempted to serve her a summons to appear at court charged with fraud but they were unable to deliver them personally to her.
It is understood Banana has offered to repay the money to the council via direct debit.
A council insider said: “She [Banana] has offered to repay the money but we still intend to prosecute her on fraud charges.
“We were unable to formally charge her because she would not accept the summons but if a fraud has taken place then she will be prosecuted.”
It is alleged Banana was overpaid £5,000 in benefits between November 2011 and 2012.
Banana yesterday wrote on her Facebook page: “so sąd to see media tarnish a persons image.
“I am not aware of any court case. I just know that i agreed to pay overpayments from the council and set uo a direct debit.x”
Banana was due to appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on February 20.