Centrelink fraud covers a number of offences to do with social security payments such as:
- Receiving more money than you are entitled to;
- Obtaining a Centrelink payment under a false name;
- Receiving a benefit you are not entitled to;
- Giving false or misleading information to Centrelink.
Centrelink fraud is a criminal offence. It is against the law to claim Centrelink benefits when you are no longer entitled to them, or not to declare income from employment or to receive payments as a single person when you are in fact married or in a de facto relationship.
What Happens First?
If Centrelink believes an offence has been committed they will conduct an investigation. This can include asking you to take part in a tape-recorded interview. Representatives from Centrelink may also come to your house to investigate your circumstances. If the investigators determine that there is a case against you, you will then be formally charged.
What Do they Need to Prove?
In order for you to be convicted, the prosecution must prove that you:
Subject to the facts of your case, it may be possible to challenge some or all of these allegations against you and/or minimise the penalty you receive if found guilty.
What are the penalties?
If you are found guilty, the penalties can be very serious. Some charges for Centrelink fraud carry prison sentences. You are likely to be ordered to repay the debt to Centrelink as well as a fine.
The Courts take a tough stance against those convicted of defrauding the Commonwealth and so it is vital to receive quick and expert legal advice.