Rocky fraudsters rip off taxpayers

TOGETHER, these three Rockhampton fraudsters ripped the government and taxpayers off by almost $40,000.

But they didn't get away with it.

While Amy Madelyn Farlow defrauded the largest amount simply because of “greed”, Anthony James Gordon swindled extra cash to feed his gambling addiction.

Lyle Graham Smith simply ignored 20 Centrelink letters sent to his home, reminding him of his obligation to report changes in circumstances.

All three yesterday pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court to unlawfully obtaining a financial advantage.

They were among seven fraudsters listed at the Commonwealth callover yesterday, but the only ones to be sentenced.

All were caught through a government data match, which is a costly means of detection in itself.

Centrelink fraud was yesterday described as “easy to commit, hard to detect”, as the system relied on honesty.

Farlow, 25, was overpaid $17,781.77 in Centrelink benefits over 38 fortnights.

During that time the mother-of-two also earned $58,138 through her employment.

Duty lawyer Stephanie Nicholas said Farlow's only motivation was “greed”.

“She is now not receiving any benefits and accepts responsibility for her behaviour,” Ms Nicholas said.

Farlow was sentenced to six months' jail, which was immediately suspended for a good behaviour period of three years.

Gordon, 42, was overpaid $14,599.59 over 42 fortnights because he actively told the Government he was not employed, even though he had six employers during that time.

Yesterday, the court heard his motivation was a gambling problem.

He was receiving payment as social security benefits, which he had received since December 2005, when he wasn't working.

Gordon is now trying to seek full-time work so no longer needs regular government assistance.

He was sentenced to three months' jail, immediately suspended for two years.

Smith, 43, was overpaid a carer's pension, as he cares for his elderly mother.

He did not disclose his seasonal employment, which earned him $29,837 during 19 fortnights.

Of his earnings he declared only $531.40, allowing him to be overpaid by $7539.99.

The father of six was ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.

All three offenders were ordered to pay back every cent they defrauded.

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