Centrelink fraud offences are some of the more frequently prosecuted matters by the Commonwealth prosecution (“CDPP”). Centrelink fraud offences are considered very serious and carry a range of penalties, after investigation, including imprisonment/jail time. It is important that you seek advice from an experienced Centrelink fraud lawyer if you receive any notifications that you are being investigated.
Types of conduct that may lead to Centrelink fraud charges
The types of conduct leading to Centrelink fraud charges, and may require you to get a fraud lawyer, include:
- Under-declaring your income or falsely reporting that you are earning no income;
- Applying for a benefit under a false name; and
- Failing to inform Centrelink of your personal circumstances that are relevant to any benefits you receive (for example saying you are single when in receipt of a Single Parent benefit when you are, in fact, in a relationship).
Centrelink may detect offending through thorough investigations and have the power to obtain and cross check information from a variety of sources, including the Australian Tax Office and other government departments such as immigration authorities, banks and your employer.
Most Centrelink fraud offences require the prosecution to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that what you did was intentional and done knowing that the result would be Centrelink paying you more money than you are entitled to.
In some cases, you might receive a Notice of Overpayment from Centrelink that says you have been paid a benefit that you are not entitled to and you may be asked to repay the money within a certain timeframe. Whether or not you repay the money, Centrelink may still decide to investigate further and refer the matter to the CDPP for prosecution.
You may also be asked to participate in an interview regarding the overpayment for the purpose of Centrelink determining whether you have acted in a fraudulent manner. Prior to participating in an interview of any kind, you should seek advice from a Centrelink Fraud lawyer about the consequences of answering any questions. It is important to note that any information you provide to Centrelink can be used against you in a potential prosecution.
If you are served with paperwork requiring you to attend Court for Centrelink offences, you should contact a Centrelink fraud lawyer immediately to get advice about the charge, whether there are any defences open to you, what the consequences of pleading guilty might be and what you can do to mitigate any sentence.
Centrelink fraud cases in Perth
Whether you have received a Notice of Overpayment or are already facing charges in court, our Centrelink fraud lawyers can help you. Below are just some of the Centrelink fraud cases that our criminal law firm has helped clients with.
M pleaded guilty to falsely declaring that she had not earned any income and under-declaring what she earned. She received 55 payments that she was not entitled to and 19 payments that she was only partially entitled to. At times, she declared her earnings were under 10 per cent of her actual income. The amount of benefits paid that she was not entitled to was about $40,000. She was sentenced to 5 months imprisonment, after which she would be eligible for release on a good behaviour bond.
Failing to declare income
R pleaded guilty to failing to declare an income while receiving a single parenting payment for about two years. She received just under $30,000 of payments she was not entitled to and had been prosecuted for similar offending previously. The offending was discovered through cross matching data between the ATO and Centrelink. R was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 months, after which she would serve a 12 month good behaviour bond.
Claiming benefits under a false name
J pleaded guilty to claiming benefits under a false name, failing to inform Centrelink of her true personal circumstances about her marital status and living situation. She received about $65,000 of payments over 8 years. She fully repaid the debt prior to sentencing but was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.
Claiming benefits you are not entitled to
N pleaded guilty to claiming the Single Parent benefit for more than 9 years and receiving about $123,000 in benefits she was not entitled to, and not disclosing significant savings in hidden bank accounts. She was sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 9 months, to be followed by a good behaviour bond.
If you are looking for Centrelink fraud lawyers in Perth to advise or represent you on related charges, get in touch with our friendly team today.