A Warrawong welfare recipient has confessed to giving Centrelink false medical certificates for more than 18 months so she could get out of having to look for work.
Victoria Samantha Cade pleaded guilty in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday to five counts of using a forged document to obtain a benefit, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years on indictment and 2 years when dealt with in the Local Court.
A set of agreed facts tendered to the court said Cade began getting a Newstart Allowance in February 2016.
She entered into a job plan in June that year, which required her to attend meetings with the job finder agency MBC Employment Services at Warrawong to search for employment.
However, Cade failed to attend the meetings, prompting Centrelink to suspend her Newstart Allowance payments several times.
The court heard on each occasion, after receiving a notification that her payments had been suspended, Cade attended the Warrawong Centrelink office and submitted a false medical certificate saying she was unfit to work, often for several months at a time.
The first time Cade's payment was suspended in June 2016, she attended Bayview Medical Centre and was issued with a valid medical certificate marking her unfit for work until July 1.
While this certificate wasn't submitted to Centrelink, Cade went on to submit a false certificate purporting to be from the same doctor on July 5 claiming she was unfit to work until September.
As a result, the Centrelink officer who accepted the certificate granted her a work exemption and she was paid her weekly Centrelink entitlements for the time period, totalling $3676.
The court heard Cade submitted further certificates, this time said to be from another medical centre, for the period of September to December in 2016, then February to May and August to November in 2017, and December 2017 to February 2018.
During each period, Cade's fake certificates were accepted as genuine by Centrelink.
Her fraudulent activity resulted in her being paid $14,360 in payments between June 2016 and February 2018, until a Centrelink employee grew suspicious of one of the certificates and advised Cade she would be contacting the medical centre to verify the situation.
Cade made the excuse of needing to go to the bathroom urgently and left the building.
When the Centrelink worker contacted the medical centre, the receptionist confirmed the last medical certificate they'd given Cade had been issued more than a year prior.
Cade had her payments suspended indefinitely and she was issued with a notice to attend court on the dishonesty charges.
She will face sentencing on November 12.
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