Title Welfare fraud sentences send clear warning.
Database Press Releases
Date 01-07-2008
Source MINISTER FOR HUMAN SERVICES
Author LUDWIG, Joe, (former Senator)
Citation Id BQYR6
Cover date Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Format Online Text
In Government no
Item Online Text: 1764151
Key item No
MP yes
Pages 2p.
Party ALP
Speech No
System Id media/pressrel/BQYR6


Welfare fraud sentences send clear warning.

Media Release 1 July 2008

Welfare fraud sentences send clear warning

The recent jailing of two welfare cheats sends a clear warning to those tempted to try to defraud Australian taxpayers, Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig, said today.

The two cases were dealt with on Friday, June 27, in Perth and at Mt Isa, Queensland.

The West Australian offender was caught through Centrelink’s data-matching program with the Australian Taxation Office.

The second case of identity fraud was uncovered after a tip-off and sophisticated follow-up work from Centrelink fraud investigators.

“These cases clearly demonstrate to potential welfare cheats that they will be caught and will face serious consequences for their actions,” Senator Ludwig said.

“The sentences should serve as strong warnings to others who are thinking about rorting the system.”

“The Government will not tolerate people who undermine Australia’s welfare system – it’s there for those in genuine in need and not for those who just want to help themselves."

Fraud Case 1

A West Australian woman was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after pleading guilty in Perth District Court for failing to advise Centrelink of her employment and earnings.

She received more than $53, 000 in Centrelink payments she wasn’t entitled to between August 2002 and June 2007.

She will be eligible for parole after serving nine months in prison, to be released on a $4,000 two-year good behaviour bond.

She had been working under an alias for some time.

Fraud Case 2

A North Queensland man was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment after pleading guilty in Mt Isa District Court to using false identity documents to steal more than $23,000 in Centrelink payments between July 2004 and October 2006.

He used the false documents to claim Newstart allowance under two false identities, while also receiving a legitimate Disability Pension.

He will be eligible for parole after serving four months in prison, to be released on a $1,000 three-year good behaviour bond. He was also ordered to repay Centrelink the remaining money he owes in full - $23,364.54.

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The Court was told Centrelink was initially alerted to the fraud after a tip-off from a vigilant member of the public.

Centrelink fraud investigators then undertook an exhaustive investigation, including optical surveillance.

The execution of a search warrant at the customer’s home by the Australian Federal Police found the false ID’s in his possession.

"It's clear the vast majority of Centrelink customers are honest and entitled to their payments," Senator Ludwig said.

"But I warn those who try to defraud Australian taxpayers - we are on the case and have a number of ways we can catch you."

“Not only do you face the prospect of prison time and court fines, but you’ll have to repay every dollar.”

Senator Ludwig said Centrelink follows up every tip-off received.

“I’m asking anyone who suspects a false identity is being used to collect welfare payments to contact Centrelink.”

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.

Media Contact: Joe Scavo—0413 800 757.

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