A worker who fraudulently claimed $ 112,000 in benefits after falsely claiming to be wheelchair-bound and in need of 24-hour care has been jailed for 6 months.
According to a WorkSafe Victoria media release, the 44-year-old worker pleaded guilty in August 2012 to one count of fraudulently obtaining weekly compensation payments and seven of providing false information.
The worker’s leg was amputated in 1990 as a result of a workplace injury which took place in 1985.
Between July 2008 and June 2010, the injured worker visited doctors and claimed she was wheelchair-bound, incapable of working and is in need of 24-hour care.
She received $ 59,687 in compensation payments. However, video surveillance obtained from a WorkSafe investigation showed her moving freely in her prosthetic leg.
The court heard that six carers submitted $ 52,500 in attendant care invoices during the same period for their services to the worker. According to investigation, they split the proceeds with the worker.
The six carers were charged with various offences in 2011 under the Crimes Act and the Accident Compensation Act, including falsifying records and providing false information about the worker’s condition.
In sentencing, the Magistrate said the worker’s offending was “breathtakingly audacious” and that she abused the WorkCover scheme for her own personal interests.
“You were clearly the mastermind and the primary beneficiary,” said Magistrate Suzanne Cameron.
The worker will be jailed for 16 months, with eight months of her sentence suspended for ten years. She was also ordered to repay $ 112,000.
The worker’s lawyer lodged an appeal against the sentence. The worker was bailed to appear at the Country Court in March.
WorkSafe Injury Support & Services Executive Director, Len Boehm, said these cases undermined legitimate cases which needed financial support and care.
“Our scheme exists to provide short medium and long term care where it is warranted and ultimately to help people return to work and social interaction.
“The community can’t tolerate fraud of this deliberate scale. It undermines those who are hurt, particularly those with a capacity to work.”
“It plants a perception that a large number of people on compensation have fraudulent claims. That is absolutely not the case and I know it is immensely frustrating for those who do the right thing when they hear about cases like this,” said Mr Boehm.
He said this case should serve as a reminder that fraudulent activities will never be tolerated and that it will be investigated once detected with offenders prosecuted.