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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) Almost one-third of Australians government payment. receive some sort of every week. $1.6 billion is handed out claimed by fraudulent customers, But with $21 million of that the Government has had enough. to catch the worst of them out. It's employing private detectives In fact, Centrelink report has never been greater. the number of welfare cheats to catch them And the surveillance operations have never been more intense. Georgia Main reports. of welfare cheats The rogues' gallery they were never entitled to. claiming money Creating false identities, into pocketing a fortune. lying and cheating their way catching them out. This is the surveillance blitz Take a look at this Queensland man. $150,000 in disability support. A bad back enabled him to pocket this job didn't cause a strain. Clearly, to a Centrelink officer The documents this woman hands are in a false name. Over nine years, in disability support she claimed more than $100,000

at this hospital under another name. all the while working sentenced to two years in prison. And that person has now been to pocket $33,000 in ABSTUDY support This woman also used an alias going to work. while hidden cameras caught her all the time These sorts of cases do go on are determined to catch people. and the Government and Centrelink The surveillance was captured private detectives. by government-employed is in charge Human Services Minister Chris Bowen of the $1.4 million blitz.

recovering the money, It's not just about as substantial as that is - financial year recovered. $21 million over the last we send. It's also about the messages watching your program It's sending the message to people and the community more generally - the chances are we will catch you. if you're thinking about doing this, for years The deception often goes on before the fraudsters are caught. Eric Byford. Like 86-year-old Queenslander he claimed two aged-care pensions. For 12 years, Brian Hayes. One for him and one under an alias, and driver's license He used a forged birth certificate to cheat the system out of $140,000. of her husband's deception. His wife, Doris, had no idea Dreadful, I'm really disgusted.

any sort of a length People will go to they're not entitled to. to obtain money they're stealing identification. People are faking documents, Private detective Mark Grover. more of an influence That's why there is now of private investigators being used the dodgy welfare cheats. to catch out In the last 12 months, welfare cheats around the country detectives have exposed nearly 1,600 of taxpayer funds. attempting to pocket $21 million surveillance caught 355 people out. In Queensland, to the most welfare cheats - 453. New South Wales is home private detectives busted 321 people And in Victoria, they weren't entitled to. taking money

received nearly $500,000 - Last year, Malgorzata Poniatowska in Adelaide - a record compensation payout against her former employer. in a sexual harassment case in court on 17 fraud charges But in January, she was back of single parent payments for claiming $20,000 worth over two years. She was given a suspended sentence. The people who go out there

out of their money are scumbags. and deliberately cheat taxpayers believes Talkback commentator Steve Price from government benefits. those caught should be banned would think twice about cheating. Imagine how many people then Unlike this Sydney grandfather, in disability support who claimed $70,000 and later, the age pension. his partner in crime. His 42-year-old wife, For six years, under false names. they were both earned incomes they're spending their time in jail. Now the money's been spent,

the taxpayer. Nobody's entitled to rip off Just five years ago, and computer cross-checking increased surveillance in fraudulent payouts. saved the Government $87 million to $113 million. That figure's now increased They know who they are.

because Big Brother is. They should be watching, Centrelink says it receives of potentially fraudulent claims. 50,000 tip-offs a year in television, Well, he's got a second chance