Tasmanian woman jailed for $97,000 fraud

Thursday, 13 February 2014

A 52-year-old Tasmanian woman will spend up to 15 months behind bars after being found guilty of fraudulently claiming more than $97,000 in welfare payments.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania yesterday heard The Department of Human Services was tipped off that Dena Alexopoulos of Kingston was not disclosing that she was living in a marriage-like relationship while claiming the Disability Support Pension and Parenting Payment Single between 1998 and 2007.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Shan Tennent said Ms Alexopoulos offence “caused significant financial impact on the community and was out of greed, not need”.

Department of Human Services Minister, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the court result demonstrated that people setting out to exploit the system for their own benefit face serious consequences.

“Most people who receive a social security payment are honest and do the right thing by keeping the department up-to-date about their circumstances to ensure they are paid correctly and don’t get a debt,” Minister Payne said.

“The law requires a person to notify the department of changes in circumstances that affect their payments within 14 days. This includes telling the department about a change in their relationship status.

“As has occurred in this case, the department takes all allegations of fraud seriously and each fraud tip-off is thoroughly assessed by members of the department’s specialist fraud teams.

“If you are doing the wrong thing, it is only a matter of time before you are caught and face serious consequences.”

Alexopoulos plead guilty and was sentenced to a total of 15 months jail to be released after six months and placed on a two year Good Behaviour Bond. The Judge also ordered Ms Alexopolous to repay the department $87,075.99.

To report a suspected fraud, members of the public can call the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 13 1524 or visit www.humanservices.gov.au/fraud