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Tip-off leads investigators to $123,000 welfare fraud.



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Media Release

28 August 2008

Tip-off leads investigators to $123,000 welfare fraud

A 58-year-old Brisbane woman has today been sentenced to three years’ jail after pleading guilty to welfare fraud totalling almost $123,000.

Beenleigh District Court was told Judith Lorraine Thompson claimed the Centrelink Disability Support Pension at the single rate over a 13-year period, even though she was married.

She also failed to declare income she and her husband earned, as well as several properties she jointly owned.

Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the court outcome was a good all-round result for taxpayers, as the Director of Public Prosecutions took proceeds of crime action against the offender to recover the money.

“This is the first time proceeds of crime action has been initiated by Centrelink in Queensland,” Senator Ludwig said.

“As a result, taxpayers have already been repaid the full amount of $122,967 fraudulently claimed by this offender.”

The fraud took place between October 1993 and November 2006. Thompson will be released on a $1,000 three-year good behaviour bond after serving six months.

“The tough sentence reinforces the message that welfare fraud won’t be tolerated and the consequences for those trying to cheat their fellow Australians are very serious,” Senator Ludwig said.

“Centrelink investigators uncovered the fraud following a tip-off from a member of the public.”

“Centrelink’s investigation included the use of surveillance operatives to establish the extent of the offence.”

This case follows another welfare fraud sentencing earlier this month.

In the Perth District Court, 62-year-old Gordon Waldock was sentenced to 2½ years in prison after he fraudulently claimed more than $81,000 in Newstart Allowance over 10 years when he failed to correctly declare his employment income.

He will be eligible for parole after serving 10 months in prison, to be released on a $1,000 two-year good behaviour bond, and was also ordered to repay the money.

Members of the public can report suspected cases of welfare fraud by calling the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 13 1524 or visiting the Centrelink website at www.centrelink.gov.au.

“Those who commit these offences undermine the system and hurt those with genuine needs.

“We need to make sure that taxpayer dollars go to the right people to get the right payment, at the right time.”

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“Today’s sentencing and other recent penalties handed out by the courts serve as a strong warning to others who are thinking about rorting the system - it’s only a matter of time before you get caught.”

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Media Contacts

Joe Scavo (Ludwig) — 0413 800 757

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