Criminal Law Cases – Commonwealth Crimes Act – Commonwealth Criminal Code
The office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) prosecutes people who it is thought have committed an offence involving Centrelink. The types of offences include receiving payments in excess of a person’s entitlement; obtaining a benefit under a false name; obtaining a benefit when not entitled to do so etc.
These offences can be committed in a number of ways – but the important thing is to realise that the potential penalties include imprisonment. Offences of this kind are viewed very seriously by the courts and penalties are often severe.
It is sometimes very difficult to know if you are entitled to a Centrelink benefit, and if so, which benefit. What if your circumstances have changed and you failed to notify Centrelink – or if you thought that you notified Centrelink of the information they needed only to find that the information was insufficient and that you are now being prosecuted? Perhaps you perform part-time work and receive a top up benefit – however if your income exceeds the threshold level and you failed to declare it, you stand a good chance of being prosecuted – even if you paid it back in full.
Some people claim unemployment benefits but receive cash income or income under a false name. A prison sentence is a likely outcome if the offence is proved.
Quite often offences are discovered by cross checking between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office when a tax return is lodged.
If you have been asked to attend an interview with Centrelink regarding a possible overpayment, it is likely that the matter will be referred to the Commonwealth DPP.