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Welfare cheats caught in Centrelink fraud crackdown



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MINISTER’S MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Scavo 0413 800 757

MEDIA RELEASE Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig Minister for Human Services

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Welfare cheats caught in Centrelink fraud crackdown

The sentencing of three Queenslanders in one day in separate fraud cases shows the Rudd Government is taking a tough stand on people who try to rip off the welfare system.

In the most serious of the three cases, a Gold Coast woman with more than two million dollars in assets received a three-year jail term.

“The Rudd Government is committed to helping those in the community with a genuine need,” the Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig said.

“While the vast majority of Centrelink customers are honest and entitled to their payments, we will not tolerate people who unlawfully try to take advantage of the system.”

“The prosecution of three Queenslanders yesterday sends a clear message to the community that the system is fair and it will pursue people who deliberately commit fraud.”

The Gold Coast woman, sentenced on September 16 in the Southport District Court, pleaded guilty to welfare fraud.

The 66-year-old claimed nearly $50,000 in Centrelink benefits over five years and failed to declare multiple assets, including numerous properties, a houseboat and cash holdings worth more than $2 million.

The woman has already repaid the money and will be released on a 2½ year good behaviour bond after serving six-months in prison.

“This case demonstrates a calculated attempt to rip off taxpayers and should serve as a warning to other potential welfare cheats that they will be caught,” Senator Ludwig said.

“In the 2007-08 financial year, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions prosecuted 2,658 Centrelink cases for fraud with a success rate of 98.7 per cent.”

“Information provided by members of the public proved a valuable source in identifying people who deliberately claimed more than their share of government assistance.”

“Last financial year, information from the public resulted in 12,311 payments being reduced and $148.7 million in savings and debts being identified,” he said.

MINISTER’S MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Scavo 0413 800 757

To report suspected cases of welfare fraud call the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 13 1524 or visit the Centrelink website at www.centrelink.gov.au .

CASE 1

A 66-year-old Gold Coast woman has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to welfare fraud.

The woman fraudulently claimed $48,803 in Centrelink Widow B Pension between September 1999 and March 2004 and failed to declare multiple assets, including numerous properties, a houseboat and significant cash holdings worth more than $2 million.

She has already repaid the money and will be released on a 2 ½ year good behaviour bond after serving six months.

CASE 2

A 42-year-old mother from Hervey bay has been found guilty of failing to declare income she earned over a four-year period while receiving a Centrelink parenting payment.

The woman was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond for fraudulently receiving almost $14,000 from Centrelink.

She has repaid some of the money and has been ordered to repay the outstanding amount of $9,600.

CASE 3

A 68-year-old Hervey Bay man has been ordered to complete 100 hours community service for pocketing too much Aged Pension while working.

The man only declared 20 per cent of his earnings and was overpaid by almost $15,000.

He has repaid some of the money and has been ordered to repay the outstanding sum of $9500.