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Criminal Law – More about Centrelink Fraud

Receiving money from Centrelink to which you are not entitled to is an offence. This offence could carry a monetary penalty, a jail term, community service and periodic detention. So, if Centrelink says that you have been overpaid and they advise you that they wish to interview you, you should seek our legal advice immediately. If an incorrect payment or fraud of some kind has been detected, the customer will be contacted about this and will be asked to explain why it happened. If this results in an overpayment, a debt will be raised for this amount and it must be repaid.

Sometimes, Centrelink can contact you where you have neglected to disclose something or you could have been working and getting Centrelink payments when you weren’t supposed to. Even before you ever consier going to an interview you should ask Centrelink to give you something in writing which shows all payments made to you and how Centrelink has worked out that you have been overpaid. Centrelink may tell you they will show you that document when you come to the interview. You have a right to get a piece of paper showing, for each fortnight, what you have been paid and what Centrelink says you should have been paid.

If you owe Centrelink money because you have been dishonest eg. by not telling them that you have started working, or you have a de facto partner who is working etc, then this is fraud, which is a criminal offence. Even if you have paid all the money back, or you are paying it all back in installments, you have still broken the law.

As soon as you are contacted by Centrelink you should retain us to act for you otherwise you are at their mercy. Remember that if you do go to an interview, Centrelink can make a record of what you say and will use it in court later.

If you are summonsed to appear in court and you have not retained a lawyer call us immediately for assistance. Centrelink offences are serious and they need to be treated as such. You should never leave it unitl the last minute before you contact as lawyer as a case prepared in hast is a recipe for disaster.

The courts treat Centrelink fraud seriously. Whether you get a gaol sentence will depend on things like:

  • how much you owe
  • if you went and told Centrelink or you were found out some other way
  • if you’ve done it before.

Remember, if Centrelink contacts you to go in for an interview, or you receive a court attendance notice to attend Court in relation to the matter, you should call LAC Lawyers for urgent professional advice and assistance. We specialise in these matters and do not accept instructions in legal aid matters.

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