25 September 2023

Rorters caught short in DHS clampdown

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The Department of Human Services (DHS) has revealed that more than 70 people a day are being caught rorting the welfare system by falsely claiming to be single in order to qualify for higher Centrelink payments.

The Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, Michael Keenan said that in the 2017-18 financial year, 26,346 individuals failed to declare that they were in a relationship, resulting in more than $61 million in overpayments that now have to be recovered.

Mr Keenan said that while some cases involved genuine mistakes or oversights, many were deliberate acts of fraud that were detected by the DHS Specialist Fraud and Compliance teams.

“Since 1 July 2016, operations run by the teams have helped generate more than $2.1 billion in savings for taxpayers,” he said.

“These figures should serve as a warning to anyone thinking of defrauding the system that the risks of getting caught are very high.”

He said those caught would be made to pay the money back and could also end up with a criminal record, or worse, in jail.

“Just last month, a 76-year-old woman was sentenced to almost three years behind bars after a Victorian court convicted her of fraudulently claiming $287,000 in benefits,” the Minister said.

“The woman claimed she was single in order to receive a higher rate of the age pension while in a relationship with a man who was worth millions,” he said.

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