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  • Centrelink Fraud and Centrelink Offences

If you are reading this, it is likely that you (or someone you care for) has been charged with Centrelink Fraud and/or a Centrelink Offence. At LAC, we understand that people who are in times of hardship may make the wrong decisions.

Although some Centrelink offences, including Centrelink fraud, are committed for pure greed, others are motivated by need. We are here to take you through this difficult time and act in your best interest. These offences can be difficult to detect but new sophisticated data matching techniques have led to the detection of many offenders. Once detected offenders can be referred for prosecution even though only small amounts of money (e.g. $2,000) are involved.

Centrelink Fraud/Centrelink Offence

It is a criminal offence to receive a benefit from the Department of Social Security, or Centrelink dishonestly. The Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, prescribes specific offences for persons who commit such offences. Some examples are:

  • Obtaining a Newstart allowance and failing to declare part-time earnings.
  • Obtaining a single parent allowance and failing to declare a live-in defacto relationship.
  • Obtaining an invalid pension and failing to disclose full time employment.
  • Obtaining payment for children not in your care.
  • Collecting rent assistance when rent is not being paid.
  • Using more than one name to access benefits.
  • Over-claiming benefits without any present entitlement.

Often a person who commits these offences does not realise the serious consequences of their actions and once they have commenced the conduct find it difficult to stop. Each time a person receives a payment a separate offence is committed. As they compound the more serious are the breaches.

Once an offender has been detected by Centrelink about receiving unlawful payments they will be contacted and provided with an opportunity to be interviewed and a record of interview taken. You should not attend for interview or provide a record of interview in these circumstances as any such document will be pregnant with admissions and only assist Centrelink to have you prosecuted.

In these cases contact should be immediately made with LAC Lawyers to safeguard your position. Once you call us we will make an appointment for you to advise you of the best way to proceed.

Revenue Implications

Effectively any Centrelink offences, including fraud,  is a revenue offence. The leakage from the Public Purse is significant. Centrelink Benefits make up approximately 38% of Australian Government payments to the community. No one is safe, if you receive a benefit to which you are not entitled you are at significant risk of criminal prosecution.

Penalties for Centrelink Fraud/Centrelink Offences

Where a matter has been referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution, usually the decision is made to commence proceeding for offences under the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, and the maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment up to 12 months for each offence.

The matter will come before a Local Court in NSW and dealt in the court's summary jurisdiction.  Often, the defendant pleads guilty to the charges and the magistrate will sentence the defendant. The sentence imposed by a magistrate will depend on the circumstances of each case, and in most cases are dealt with by way of a good behaviour bond, fine or suspended sentence.

If you have been charged with Centrelink fraud or any other Centrelink offence, you need legal advice. Call LAC Lawyers today on 1300 309 551.

Centrelink Fraud/Centrelink Offences: NEED OR GREED

It is important that the magistrate be well informed about the circumstances of why the defendant committed the offence.  In many cases defendants commit the offence because they are in financial hardship and needed the extra funds to survive.  In these situations, reports or documents may be required to prove the point, and if the magistrate accepts that the offences were committed out "need", then that is taken into account when sentence is passed.

On the other hand, offences of this type can be committed out of "greed".  This can be evident if the defendant receives several benefits under different names, or where the defendant is quite wealthy and claims a benefit and fails to disclose full time employment.  Offences of this type are viewed more seriously when the defendant is sentenced.

Furthermore, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution may take a view that the conduct is so serious that the defendant is charged with offences under Criminal Code (Commonwealth) 1995. For example, defrauding the Commonwealth which can lead to a maximum period of 5 years imprisonment.  If charges are commenced under this Act, then it is likely that the matter will proceed by way of a committal hearing in the Local Court and the matter sent to the District Court.

In all these cases, the Department of Social Security will initiate steps to recover any monies that were paid wrongly, and this is separate to the criminal proceeding.

If you have been charged with a Centrelink offence, you need legal advice. Call LAC Lawyers today on 1300 309 551.

Centrelink Fraud/Centrelink Offences Articles


Experienced Criminal Lawyers for all Centrelink Offences

Below is a list of criminal lawyers who offer expert legal defence for all Centrelink offences.

LAC Lawyers have a team of lawyers with the experience in criminal law cases that you need to get the best outcome. The following is a selection of our currently practicing criminal lawyers.


If you have been charged with Centrelink Fraud or any other Centrelink offence, contact  LAC today on 1300 309 551.

Want to speak to a lawyer right away?

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Centrelink Fraud and Centrelink Offences Articles

Criminal Law - Centrelink - Does Centrelink Investigate Students?

Date: January 08, 2013
Author(s): Frank Egan B.A., LL.B., A.C.L.A., F.T.I.A. (Notary)
As with any other government benefit Centrelink requires recipients to provide relevant information and updates of changed circumstances.

Criminal Law - Centrelink - Hiding Money From Centrelink

Date: January 08, 2013
Author(s): Frank Egan B.A., LL.B., A.C.L.A., F.T.I.A. (Notary)
As with other social welfare systems, Centrelink aims to alleviate the burdens of individuals by providing them with pensions, allowances and other benefits.

Tax Law - Commonwealth Revenue Offences - Taxation Offences - Centrelink Offences

Date: May 28, 2012
Author(s): Frank Egan B.A., LL.B., A.C.L.A., F.T.I.A. (Notary)
Although this article deals with Taxation and Centrelink offences it should never be forgotten that the real art in all of these matters is to try to avoid criminal prosecution at all costs. The level of skill and expertise which is required to do this is beyond most lawyers and certainly, most accountants as it is a discipline all of its own.

Tax Law - Foreign Source Income - Centrelink

Date: May 15, 2012
Author(s): Frank Egan B.A., LL.B., A.C.L.A., F.T.I.A. (Notary)
Over the years the ATO has turned its attention to a number of taxation exploitation schemes. During the course of the current calendar year one of their major points of focus is Australian residents with undeclared foreign source income e.g. foreign investment income or income earned from inherited assets.

Criminal Law - Centrelink Fraud, How Do You Get Caught?

Date: October 08, 2010
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
If you are in receipt of Centrelink benefits then you have a duty to provide Centrelink with all information regarding your earnings and financial circumstances. Should you fail to make any relevant disclosure with respect to your earnings and financial circumstances and it is later detected by Centrelink then you could find yourself being brought before the Court to answer criminal charges.

Criminal Law - Sentencing in the Local Court

Date: October 08, 2010
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
Often I am asked by my clients who have been charged with common offences such as assault or drink driving what the likely result will be if they enter a plea of “Guilty”. This is not a question which can be answered with much certainty given that even when to individuals are charged with exactly the same charge, the possible outcome when it comes to that individual’s sentencing can vary according to factors such as in which Local Court the matter is dealt with, which Magistrate determines the sentence, the sentencing options available to the Magistrate and the individual’s subjective circumstances.

Is it the beginning of the end for discretionary trusts and one-man companies - Centrelink, Bankruptcy and Taxation

Date: September 01, 2010
Author(s): Michael Pickering B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M., M. A.
Another example is Elliott v. The Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations decided in 2008 immediately before the High Court of Australia’s decision in Spry and was concerned with the means test for Centrelink pensions.

Criminal Law - Centrelink Offences - An Overview

Date: May 10, 2010
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
There are various types of Centerlink offences the most common Centrelink Fraud, i.e. engaging in conduct to obtain a financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity knowing and believing that one is not eligible to receive that financial advantage. Most often people deliberately provide Centrelink with false, incomplete or misleading information and break the law.

Criminal Law - More about Centrelink Fraud

Date: August 12, 2009
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
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.

Criminal law - Centrelink Fraud

Date: January 16, 2009
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
Centrelink fraud has become rife in the last few years and Centrelink investigators have become more and more ardent at uncovering this. There is a deliberate attempt to rip-off the system and today’s sentencing shows how harshly welfare cheats can expect to be treated by the courts.

What to expect when you call LAC Lawyers

Date: December 13, 2006
Author(s): LAC Lawyers
LAC Lawyers is a full service firm dedicated to the provision of superior legal services in Australia. Our aim is to provide unrivalled client satisfaction coupled with high quality service and advice. When you call LAC Lawyers our friendly reception staff will spend time with you to identify the area of law your enquiry relates to then pass you on to one of our qualified solicitor's who can help you.

Centrelink Fraud and Centrelink Offences FAQs

Centrelink Fraud and Centrelink Offences Lawyers

Michael Pickering B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M., M. A.

Position: Senior Solicitor
Michael Pickering is our most senior solicitor employed in the Melbourne Branch of LAC Lawyers Pty Ltd. He deals with a wide range of matters. He has over 30 years experience as a lawyer which he applies for the benefit of clients whether large or small.

Scott Gray LPAB, Grad. Dip. Legal Practice

Position: Solicitor
Scott is result driven and strives to ensure each client achieves complete satisfaction throughout the life of their matter. He understands the stress that many clients experience and is always available to assist and discuss specific requirements as well as explain industry processes and procedures in a clear and concise manner.

Angelita Manlangit LL.B.

Position: Solicitor
Angelita is a compassionate and dedicated lawyer who understands the complexity and emotional aspects associated with going to Court, particularly in Civil & Commercial Litigation, Criminal, Family Law and Inheritance Dispute matters and at all times tries to make her clients as comfortable as possible to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with litigation. Angelita’s aim is to get the job done and not to waste time and money.

Michael Tourkakes LL.B., Grad.Dip.(Leg Prac), Adv.Dip.Bus.(Leg Prac)

Position: Solicitor
Michael is dedicated to his clients’ best interests and always strives to obtain the best results. Michael’s approach is to work with his clients to achieve the desired outcome. This enables any matter to be handled in a manner consistent with his clients’ individual or business practices and objectives. He is currently undertaking his Masters in Laws at Monash University with an emphasis on commercial, employment and industrial relations law.

Centrelink Fraud and Centrelink Offences Links

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