A Warilla mum who defrauded Centrelink of almost $50,000 in welfare payments while working full time for a local industrial business has narrowly avoided time behind bars.
Karen Jackson, 42, pleaded guilty to two charges of receiving a financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity and was handed a nine-month jail sentence in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday.
However, the sentence was immediately suspended on the condition Jackson enter into a three-year good behaviour bond, which also comes with a $2,000 surety.
A set of agreed facts tendered to the court on behalf of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions said Jackson began receiving the Newstart Allowance in 2012, but her offending took place between February 2013 and December 2017.
The facts reveal during that time Jackson earned $198,167 - an average income of about $1,500 a fortnight - working in administration and internal sales for a company at Lake Heights.
However, the court heard Jackson told Centrelink she'd earned just $65,432 in income over the four-year period - sometimes declaring a minimal income for the reporting fortnight and other times saying she had not earned any money at all.
In total, she failed to disclose earnings of $132,735.
Meanwhile, Jackson received $49,775 in Newstart Allowance payments, all of which was deposited into a different bank account to where she was receiving her pay.
When Jackson's correct wage was eventually assessed against the Newstart threshold, it was revealed she should only have received $510 over the four-year period. The discrepancy represents an overpayment of $49,264.
It is understood Jackson started repaying the overpayment figure when she was charged last year.
As part of the court orders imposed on Thursday, Magistrate Roger Clisdell ordered Jackson to pay the remaining money owed to Centrelink, which currently sits at $42,275.26.