Bentilee Deal Or No Deal winner Caroline Banana faces benefit fraud charge over prize money (video)
DEAL Or No Deal contestant Caroline Banana has been charged with wrongly claiming benefits – after allegedly failing to declare her £95,000 TV show winnings to the authorities.
She is to appear before magistrates later this month, more than a year after winning the cash on the hit Channel Four daytime show.
Millions of TV viewers saw her accept the Banker's offer of £95,000. She then posed for pictures with host Noel Edmonds.
But Banana, of Whitridge Grove, Bentilee, is now due to appear in court after being prosecuted by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
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They have charged Zimbabwe-born Banana – who received both council tax and housing benefit – with failing to notify the authority of a change in her circumstances.
Claimants must notify the authorities if their bank balance exceeds £16,000 either through a windfall or inheritance. The Sentinel understands Banana has allegedly been overpaid £5,000 in benefits.
Banana appeared on Deal Or No Deal in November, 2011. Following her appearance she 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."
The show – which started in 2005 – sees contestants assigned a closed box containing a cash value they, and the audience, are unaware of.
Throughout the game the contestant will select other boxes which contain random sums of money ranging from 1p to £250,000. The Banker then makes offers to buy their box depending on which sums have been revealed.
Towards the end of her game, Banana, who was supported by husband Michael, took out the box containing £75,000, prompting the Banker to offer £35,000. She rejected it but went on to accept £95,000.
She told the show: "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."
Banana is to appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre on February 20.