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Welfare Cheats Forced to Pay Back a Record $1.4 Billion to Centrelink

Australia

Welfare Cheats Forced to Pay Back a Record $1.4 Billion to Centrelink

A record $1.4billion of taxpayers’ money has been recouped from welfare cheats as part of a Department of Human Services investigation.

Among those snared include a man who stole the identity of dead children to receive ­Centrelink payments.

Another person caught rorting the welfare system was a married mother jailed after she claimed single parent benefits for more than 10 years.

Out of 1400 cases of potential Centrelink fraud investigated, more than 950 were referred to police (stock image)

The money was recovered through an automated compliance system which ­detects discrepancies between income reported to Centrelink and ­information held by the Australian Taxation Office, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Out of 1400 cases of potential fraud investigated, more than 950 were referred to police.

Tasmanian woman Kristy Lee Wessing, 36,­ received $160,000 from Centrelink over 10 years after she claimed to be single, when in fact she married the father of two children, set up a joint bank account and purchased a car with him.

She was jailed for three years.

‘Centrelink relies on a level of honesty from the people who claim benefits and your deceptions … resulted in your claiming benefits to which you were not entitled for almost 11 years. You did not stop offending but only did so when you were caught. The amount overall was significant,’ Justice Shan Tennent said at the sentencing.

In another case, David Alan Knipe, 64, claimed $125,586 in welfare payments for almost a decade by using a series of false identities.

A record $1.4 billion was recovered through an automated compliance system which ­detects discrepancies between income reported to Centrelink and ­details held by the Australian Taxation Office (stock image)

He found identification documents for two dead children born around the same time as him and even ­obtained a passport for one alias so he could travel.

Knipe was jailed for four years and nine months.

‘Your offending involved a high level of planning, premeditation, deception and fraudulent conduct over an extended period, committed primarily for significant financial gain,’  Judge Simon Stretton said at the sentencing.

It was very, very dishonest behavior. Significant identity fraud was at the root of the scheme. General and personal deterrence must play a significant role in any sentence.’

In another case, a childless woman allegedly claimed she was a mother to ­receive parenting payments while another woman working two jobs with a combined income of $88,895 in falsely claimed unemployment benefits.

Human Services Minister Michael Keenan told The Sunday Telegraph the federal government has a zero-tolerance approach to those who defraud the system.

‘Australia has a generous social safety net, reflective of our fundamental belief in a fair go,’ Mr Keenan said.

‘While the majority of people do the right thing, there are those who set out to deliberately defraud the system, robbing Australian families in the process.’

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