Tracy Johnson is being tried at Merthyr Crown Court. Johnson, who has claimed to be afraid to go outside, is heading to trial on benefit fraud charges. Despite claiming to be afraid of enjoying the outdoors, Johnson has been living a jet-set lifestyle. Flying around the world, landing in exotic locations and enjoying chilled champagne, Johnson also worked as a tour guide in Argentina while she was collecting cold weather benefits in Britain.
Johnson, 52, was living the life that most honest, hardworking people only dream of. In Buenos Aires, she would spend weeks — and months — at a time, running her own tour guide business, Northwest Nomad Adventure. When she wasn’t busy leading tourists around the Argentine capital, Johnson also worked as a wedding photographer.
A quick online search can find plenty of information that shows just how colorful Johnson’s life has been. According to prosecutors, Johnson is a published author with several books to her credit including “Last Tango in Buenos Aires.” Johnson’s websites call her a food and travel writer. In addition to tour guide and wedding photographer, Johnson also did boudoir photography and has been busy entering her work in a variety of competitions.
Information from Johnson’s LinkedIn profile were also read to the jury. According to her online profile, Johnson says that when she is not “nomading” she alternates between Brighton and Argentina. The jury was also told that Johnson’s books are listed on Amazon. Johnson, who claims to have first traveled to Buenos Aires in 2006, later moved to Salta in the foothills of The Andes.
Before relocating to Argentina, Johnson lived and worked in interior design in New York City. According to Johnson’s profile on the business social media network, she lived in the city where she worked as an interior designer specializing in kitchens and bathrooms. She also writes on her LinkedIn profile that she was a “consultant to various kitchen refurbishment and design corporations.”
Johnson has received approximately 50,000 British pounds, over $80,000USD, in benefits. Johnson received the benefits by claiming that she suffers from agoraphobia, depression, hallucinations, anxiety and blackouts. Johnson also claims that she cannot walk five yards without assistance and has a tendency to “wander off” and get lost, unable to find her home.
While filing and submitting the claims for disability benefits, Johnson was busy traveling the globe on taxpayers money. In addition to Buenos Aires, prosecutors also say that Johnson would go on shopping trips in New York City, spend days at a time in Madrid and, in 2012, took a four-month trip exploring India.
Based on an anonymous tip, Johnson’s benefits were cut off. She filed again to renew her claim when she returned from India. Asking for her benefits to be backdated to May 2012, Johnson convinced a community psychiatric nurse to file the forms for her claiming to be a “prisoner in her own home.”
When Johnson was arrested in 2012 in Builth Wells, at her mother’s home, the tags from the trips were still on her luggage. Other documents found by authorities included copies of tickets, photos of her in Peru and 14 bilingual business cards in English and Spanish.
Johnson has pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment. The indictment covers charges from January 2008 until July 2012.
The trial of the agoraphobic world traveler continues.