Criminal Law

Centrelink Fraud

Centrelink Fraud charges cover all offending behaviour by a person relating to the receipt of Centrelink benefits. In broad terms, Centrelink fraud is usually the result of:

- A failure to declare income

- A failure to declare a change of circumstances

- Providing  misleading  information with respect to amount of income received over a relevant period

- Providing misleading information with respect to relevant circumstances.

The most common Centrelink Fraud charge (and also the least serious) is where someone engages in conduct and as a result of that conduct, obtains a financial advantage from Centrelink, knowing or believing that the person is not eligible to receive that advantage; such as receiving an overpayment due to not declaring an increase in income. Another common offence is where someone intentionally does something to obtain a financial gain from Centrelink. Although the offence categories vary, centrelink fraud penallties for even the least serious form of these offences can be severe, with a maxium penalty for the least serious offence being a term of imprisonment for twelve (12) months.

If someone is suspected of having obtained payments unlawfully, a Centrelink officer will contact them and eventually allow them an opportunity to provide a record of interview before the a decision is made whether or not to prosecute. Even if the person immediately pays the outstanding debt, it does not mean that the matter will not still be referred to the prosecuting authority (Commonwealth DPP). It is important to obtain legal advice as soon as you are approached by Centrelink, rather than waiting to see whether or not you are charged. Our criminal solicitors can provide you with important advice to assist you in making an informed decision when deciding on what you should do next.

If you have been charged with centrelink fraud or other similar offence or have been contacted by Centrelink in relation to an overpayment, then we invite you to contact your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.    

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