Centrelink cheat defrauded more than $8000 from taxpayers

A WOMAN who defrauded more than $8000 from taxpayers has been let off with a good behaviour bond in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court.

Michelle Joy Harris, 40, pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining financial benefit through intentionally misrepresenting her earnings to Centrelink for a period of 34 weeks in 2010 and 2011.

Commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Caruana said the total amount falsely claimed was $8617.29.

Mr Caruana said Harris was on a Newstart Allowance before she started working in November 2010.

But Harris failed to inform Centrelink of her paid employment, and continued collecting her allowance, the court heard.

"It was an intentional misrepresentation," Mr Caruana said.

The court heard Harris was only caught out after a data match compiled by the Australian Taxation Office revealed discrepancies with Harris's earnings.

Mr Caruana said the offence was a serious one, as social security fraud was easy to commit, and the system relied on the honesty of its participants.

Magistrate Graeme Tatnell agreed the offence needed to be treated seriously.

Mr Tatnell noted Harris's repayment plan and sentenced Harris to a two year good behaviour bond on the condition all the money got paid back.



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