Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Welfare Cheat Taken to the Cleaners

A tip-off that was then followed up by a quality Centrelink investigation has led to the sentencing of a Newcastle woman for defrauding the Commonwealth of more than $64,000 today.

The 52-year-old woman, who resides near Kurri Kurri, pleaded guilty at the Newcastle Court today to two charges of fraud and was ordered to serve three months imprisonment.

Centrelink’s investigation revealed the woman had been employed by a cleaning services contractor under a false name while receiving a Disability Support Pension for seven years.

She possessed a tax file number, Medicare card, union membership card and credit union accounts in a false name and had lodged tax returns under the same fake identity.

Centrelink followed up the tip-off with stringent scrutiny that included optical surveillance capturing the woman arriving and departing her workplace.

Apart from recognising the perseverance of Centrelink staff, I would also like to applaud the anonymous citizen who recognised the crime and took the responsible action of alerting Centrelink to the situation.

This is an excellent example of the important role the public can play in helping make sure that social security system is there for the needy and not the greedy.

There has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of tip-offs received by Centrelink this year. This is a clear statement that the majority of Australians agree that welfare payments should be preserved for people who are vulnerable and most in need.

Members of the public can report a suspected fraud through Centrelink’s online Report-a-fraud website or by telephoning the Centrelink Report-a-fraud line on 13 7230.