Couple jailed for Centrelink fraud

A GOLD Coast couple have been jailed for 18 months for fraudulently receiving more than $110,000 in Centrelink payments.

Southport Magistrates Court heard Thomas Fitzpatrick, 63, claimed Newstart Allowance between 1999 and 2005 despite being employed for extended periods during that time.

His wife, Joan Fitzpatrick, 68, claimed Partner Allowance and the Age Pension during the same time while she was employed under her maiden name.

The fraud was uncovered by the Australian Taxation office.

The couple has already repaid the money and will be released after five months.

Centrelink General Manager Hank Jongen said the case should send a clear warning that those who cheat the system will be caught and punished.

“We have one of the most sophisticated electronic data-matching systems in Australia, which matches customer records with external providers such as banks and other government agencies, including the ATO and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship,” Mr Jongen said.

“Australia's about giving people a fair go, and our welfare system gives people who are genuinely in need a safety net when they can’t support themselves.
 
“All Australians have an important role to play in making sure welfare payments go to those in need by stopping people who deliberately defraud the system. Together, Centrelink and the Australian community can help keep the welfare system fair.”


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