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$50,000 Centrelink fraud sees woman cop 5 months in jail

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

A woman from Goulburn Valley, Victoria has been sentenced to five months in jail for falsely claiming more than $50,000 in Centrelink payments.

Between 2014 and 2017, Jennifer Ann Rowe received payments from Newstart Allowance but falsely under-declared her income by $90,000 over the period, Shepparton News reported.

Rowe declared her income was $12,413.15 over the four-year period, instead of the $102,440.05 she was earning while working at Woolworths, the court heard.

As a result, Rowe received $62,939.35 in social security benefits, $50,526.85 more than what she was actually entitled to.

The claims amounted to 98 under-declarations and two false nil declarations over the four-year period.

The woman had no prior convictions, pled guilty at the earliest opportunity and has already repaid $12,587.51, but still owes more than $37,000.

Rowe’s lawyer said her offenses were due to financial difficulty, not because of greed, and was initially receiving welfare for genuine reasons and had no intention of defrauding the Commonwealth.

The prosecution determined that imprisonment, despite being a last resort, was an appropriate sentence after “prolonged” fraud, given Rowe’s “repeated acts of dishonesty” only stopped because it was detected by the Australian Taxation Office.

Imprisonment was “the only appropriate sentence” for general deterrence, said Magistrate Mary-Anne MacCallum, given the “prevalence” of social security fraud.

Rowe has not been taken into custody because of an appeal lodged on her behalf against the length of the five-month prison sentence. This will be appealed at a later date.

She has been released on bail under conditions that she would reside at her Tungamah address, give up her passport, stay in Victoria and not go to any points of international departure.

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