26 September 2023

WorkSafe recovers $37m from compo cheats

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WorkSafe Victoria has claimed it prevented almost $37 million from the State’s workers compensation scheme from being fraudulently claimed in the past four years.

Director Investigations at WorkSafe, Peter Collins said the vast majority of people used the scheme for legitimate support as they recovered from a workplace injury, but a small minority attempted to game the system for their own benefit.

Mr Collins said computer-based analytics and data matching played an increasing role in exposing the people who were lining their pockets at the expense of genuinely injured workers.

“Tools for detecting workers compensation fraud are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it easier to identify suspect patterns of behaviour and claim types,” Mr Collins said.

“Anyone attempting this kind of fraud should know that WorkSafe has developed and deployed new techniques, meaning we will find you, we will catch you and we won’t hesitate to prosecute you.”

He said that last financial year, investigators halted 23 fraudulent claims which would have led to a combined projected lifetime cost to the workers compensation scheme of $19.47 million.

Mr Collins said 13 fraudulent claims with a combined projected lifetime cost of $3.98 million were terminated in 2020-21; eight, worth $3 million, were halted in 2019-20; and 23 claims, valued at $8.65 million, were terminated in 2018-19.

He said that through data analytics, WorkSafe investigators were able to link one claim with previous fraudulent work injury claims lodged in NSW that led to an arrest warrant being issued in that State.

“As a result, the 65-year-old accused was arrested in Victoria, extradited to NSW and sentenced to more than four years prison,” the Director said.

“Since 1 July 2018, WorkSafe has completed 65 successful fraud prosecutions, resulting in more than $1.65 million in restitution and repayments,” he said.

“In the majority of those cases the accused was found to be earning income at the same time as claiming compensation, including one offender who was sentenced to nine months prison after fraudulently obtaining more than $112,000 in payments while working.”

Mr Collins said that before launching any prosecution, WorkSafe could immediately terminate compensation payments where there was sufficient evidence that they had been obtained fraudulently.

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