Centrelink Fraud



Centrelink Fraud

Centrelink Fraud- 135.2 Commonwealth Criminal Code

Section 135.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code makes it an offence for a person to obtain financial advantage, for themselves or for another person, which they are not eligible to receive, from a Commonwealth entity. To be found guilty of this offence it is necessary for the following elements to be made out:

  • Person engages in conduct;
  • As a result of that conduct the person obtains a financial advantage; for himself or herself from another person, or for another person from a third party;
  • The person knows or believes that he or she is not eligible to receive that financial advantage;
  • The other person in a Commonwealth entity.

The maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment.

Common examples of this offence are known as Centrelink fraud, and involve people obtaining payments from Centrelink even though they are not entitled to it. An example of this is found in Director of Public Prosecutions (Cth) v Neamati, [2007] NSWSC 746. The defendant was charged under this section for obtaining a financial advantage from Centrelink through youth allowance knowing that he was not eligible to receive that allowance. Here, the defendant obtained the payments from Youth Allowance by deliberately understating the amount of money he was earning, and from this obtained an overpayment of $19,798.27 over a 3 year period.

Another example can be found in Whyte v Director Of Public Prosecutions [2008] SASC 310 where the appellant was charged with two counts of obtaining a financial advantage from Centrelink. The appellant lost her job and applied for Newstart Allowance, which she was entitled to until she obtained employment. As she did not inform Centrelink as to her obtained employment she received $35,602.21 over a three year period which she was not entitled to.

Common orders made by the courts for such offences include restitution orders being orders to pay back the commonwealth, together with community service orders and prison sentences whether suspended or not.

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