Centrelink Fraud and Centrelink Offences

Get Expert Legal Advice ▶

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 653 844.

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 653 844.

Centrelink Fraud/Centrelink Offences Articles

The following are our publications regarding CentreLink Offences:

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 653 844.