Lucy Mbugua was convicted of three offences of dishonestly claiming taxpayers’ cash while having no right to be in Britain.
But unbelievably, after being charged over her crimes, she has been allowed to stay in the country.
The 40-year-old mother was found guilty in her absence and also failed to turn up to be sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
A warrant was issued for Mbugua’s arrest – but she was later tracked down to her home in Selly Oak, Birmingham, before police caught up with her.
She claimed she failed to attend court because of childcare issues, but would not comment further on the case.
Her convictions were welcomed by Birmingham City Council.
The Home Office refused to explain how Mbugua was allowed to remain in the UK to commit the crimes despite having exhausted all her legal appeal options.
Magistrates heard she fraudulently claimed £24,479,09 in housing benefit and £1,829.48 in council tax benefit between September 17, 2009 and August 13, 2013.
But the court was told she was not granted permission to stay in the country until last December.
She secured the three-year visa on the grounds of having a right to a family life.
Joe Millington, prosecuting, said Mbugua ticked a box on a claim form to make it appear she had the right to live in the UK.
It is understood that she lawfully entered the country on a visa but exhausted all appeals to stay in 2009, after claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse.
Her crimes were detected through the use of data matching methods, which see council fraud investigators trawl through information shared by other government departments.
Magistrates found Mbugua guilty in her absence on April 11.
The court received a letter during that hearing to say she had childcare problems.
The case was adjourned for sentencing but Mbugua failed to attend for the second time last Friday and the arrest warrant was issued.
The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases.
Council deputy leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “Given the pressures we face as a result of central government funding cuts, it is essential we ensure every penny goes to those with a rightful claim.
“I hope this conviction sends out a clear message that we will pursue those who set out to defraud the system.”
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The welfare system exists as a safety net for the most vulnerable people who need support.
“This individual has stolen a quarter of a million pounds not just from hard-pressed taxpayers but also from the neediest in the society who actually have a legitimate claim on the benefit system.
“Authorities must do everything they can to make sure that taxpayers are protected from fraudulent welfare claims.”