Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

12 Months Non-Parole for $100,000 Welfare Fraud

An attempt to steal more than $100,000 from taxpayers has today resulted in jail for a Victorian man, thanks to a collaborative effort by Centrelink and the Australian Tax Office.

The 35-year-old man from Reservoir, Victoria was sentenced to more than 18 months in prison, with a non-parole period of 12 months, following a hearing in the Melbourne County Court today. He was also ordered to repay the full amount.

The punishment was handed out after the man pleaded guilty to receiving payments from the Government using a false identity and for failing to declare income from earnings.

Evidence showed the man deliberately altered proof of identity details and used these to create a false identity.

Identity fraud is becoming a growing threat throughout the world and Centrelink has been progressively improving its capacity to detect and identify cases.

Centrelink has in place highly developed computer matching systems together with innovative data-matching and analytical techniques to counter sophisticated identity fraud.

In the last financial year alone, Centrelink conducted over 600,000 reviews from matching Tax File Numbers with Centrelink customer data. The results have saved taxpayers millions of dollars a week on future outlays.

Australia has a generous welfare system but taxpayers expect welfare to only go the needy and not the greedy. Hopefully tough sentences like this will be a real warning to others who are thinking about ripping off the system.