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Five years prison time for $300,000 welfare fraud.

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Senator the Hon Chris Ellison Minister for Human Services

Media Release Five years prison time for $300,000 welfare fraud 13 July 2007

A joint operation by Centrelink and the Australian Federal Police has detected a 22-year, $304,000 case of welfare fraud in Sydney.

Jessica Rose Anderson, a 50-year-old woman from Bankstown, was today sentenced at the Downing Centre District Court to five years imprisonment with a three year non-parole period after pleading guilty to nineteen counts of welfare fraud and one count of passport fraud.

Anderson was also ordered to repay Centrelink all the money she defrauded in full.

The court heard Anderson entered Australia from New Zealand using a stolen passport and then used this false identity to fraudulently claim Centrelink payments between July 1984 and December 2006.

The AFP alerted Centrelink to the possible fraud, after which Centrelink fraud investigators were able to undertake an extensive investigation to establish the extent of the offence. This included the execution of a search warrant at Anderson’s Bankstown home in December last year that resulted in her arrest.

Minister for Human Services, Senator Chris Ellison, welcomed today’s sentencing and praised Centrelink and AFP officers for their commitment to combating welfare fraud.

“The Australian Government takes social security fraud very seriously and is experiencing excellent results in cracking down on welfare cheats,” Senator Ellison said.

“I wholeheartedly commend Centrelink, the AFP and the presiding judges for their commitment to protecting the public purse and ensuring that welfare money is preserved for fellow Australians who are most in need.

“This is a tremendous outcome for Australian taxpayers. It also sends a clear message to would be cheats - if you deliberately rip off the welfare system you will be caught, you will be brought to justice and you will have to pay back every cent.

“Hopefully tough sentences like this will be a real warning to others who are thinking about cheating the system.”

Last financial year the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions successfully prosecuted 2,822 cases of welfare fraud to the value of more than $34 million in payments.

Media Contact: Matt Francis - 0406 052 038.