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Thirty-seven family members rort Centrelink for $2 million

An investigation by the Department of Human Services has uncovered evidence of a $2 million systematic welfare rort among a family network in NSW.

A simple tip-off that a man had failed to declare income revealed evidence of potentially fraudulent behaviour among 37 of his relatives and associates and resulted in 19 people having their welfare payments cancelled.

Minister for Human Services Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the investigation demonstrated the ability of the department’s fraud detection systems to look beyond an individual to stop entire networks of people trying to cheat the welfare system.

“From a single piece of information the department’s specialist fraud team have uncovered a web of people dishonestly claiming payments,” Minister Payne said.

“Cross checking bank records with information from the Australian Federal Police, AUSTRAC and the NSW Department of Fair Trading highlighted multiple properties owned by some of the individuals as well as large cash sums being deposited into bank accounts.

“Bank records revealed one individual deposited $750,000 in three years while claiming benefits. Another individual paid off $300,000 from a mortgage in just over two years while receiving income support. A third claimed rent assistance for a property they owned.

“As a result of the investigation nine people have to repay more than $50,000, including two people who attempted to hide over $100,000.  Five people are also being referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for possible prosecution.

“This rort was a blatant abuse of the welfare system and an offence to hard working Australians who expect their taxes to be spent helping those in need.

“Fortunately these cases are rare and do not represent the behaviour of millions of Centrelink customers.

Minister Payne said the investigation also highlighted the important part tip-offs play in ensuring the integrity of the welfare system.

“People can be assured that information given to the department will be thoroughly investigated and for those doing the wrong thing, it is simply a matter of time before they will be caught,” Minister Payne said.

“The consequences for deliberately defrauding the Commonwealth can be very serious and include fines, a permanent criminal record and jail time.”

More information about reporting suspected cases of Centrelink, Medicare or Child Support fraud can be found online at or by calling the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-Off Line on 131 524.