What is Centrelink Fraud?
The office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) prosecutes people who have committed an offence involving Centrelink.
The types of offences include:
- Receiving payments more than a person’s entitlement;
- Obtaining a benefit under a false name;
- Obtaining a benefit when not entitled to do so, etc.
There are various ways in which these offences can occur. It is important to be aware that the courts treat these as very serious offences. Penalties are often severe, and can include imprisonment.
It is sometimes very difficult to know if you are entitled to a Centrelink benefit, and if so, which benefit. A few possible scenarios that could get you into trouble include:
- Your circumstances have changed and you failed to notify Centrelink.
- You thought you provided Centrelink with the information they needed. You now discover that the information was insufficient, and you are being prosecuted.
- You perform part-time work and receive a top up benefit. 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.
You should seek immediate advice from an experienced defence lawyer.