Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

909 welfare cheats caught and convicted in NSW

More than 900 cases of welfare fraud in NSW were convicted last financial year, as part of the Australian Government’s ongoing efforts to keep the social security system fair and honest Senator Kay Patterson, Minister for Family and Community Services, announced today.

“Centrelink figures show that NSW had the most welfare cheats prosecuted of any State in Australia, with the 909 cases of convicted welfare fraud in NSW involving debts of more than $12 million,” Senator Patterson said.

“Cases of welfare fraud in NSW also had a strong conviction rate. Of the 941 cases appearing in court, 909 resulted in convictions – a conviction rate of 96.6 per cent.

“Centrelink only refers the most serious cases of fraud to the Director of Public Prosecutions, in line with the Commonwealth’s prosecution policy.

“These cases involve people who have deliberately deceived Centrelink in order to receive payments to which they were not entitled.

“Many of these cases involve Centrelink customers cheating taxpayers of $100,000 or more or claiming payments in multiple identities.

“One case highlighted an elaborate $474,000 identity fraud racket that was smashed when a man was sentenced to eight years prison in March last year.

“In the 2002/03 financial year, Australian taxpayers were saved more than $44 million every week through compliance and review activity.

“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the social security system is available to Australians when they need it and that they all receive what they are entitled to,” said Senator Patterson.

“While the Government is keen to catch people who seek to cheat the system it also supports proper management of taxpayer funds to ensure people receive their correct entitlement in the first instance.

“In the Budget I secured funding for a national awareness campaign entitled Keeping the System Fair, which will include a multi-media educational campaign, encouraging Centrelink customers to voluntarily notify any changes in their circumstances.

“This campaign is expected to result in net savings to taxpayers of $214.9 million over the next four years.”

Some serious cases of welfare fraud in NSW

  • John Adrian Knight was sentenced to eight years prison for his role in a $474,000 identity welfare fraud. Knight was the mastermind of the elaborate scam, amassing a personal total of $363,000. In one of the most serious cases of welfare fraud in the history of the welfare system, Knight plotted the creation of 31 separate identities to claim Centrelink payments over four and a half years. Centrelink’s fraud detection systems spotted the fraud, and launched a joint operation with the Australian Federal Police. Knight was sentenced on 21 March 2003.
  • A Wollongong resident, Boris Durusovski, was sentenced to 39 months prison on 29 July 2003 after using a false identity to defraud Centrelink of more than $126,000. Centrelink’s Identity Fraud detection programs picked up unusual similarities between Durusovski’s real and false identities, culminating in the execution of an AFP warrant on his Bellambi residence in 2001.