Cordeaux Heights nurse confesses to $47k welfare fraud

Centrelink fraudA Cordeaux Heights woman has admitted rorting Centrelink of almost $50,000 by claiming welfare while working as a part-timenurse.

Michelle Jane Honesspleaded guilty in Wollongong Local Court on Thursday to two counts of engaging in conduct to obtain a financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity, amid revelations she deliberately lied about herincomeover a period of more than four years.

Court documents said Honess worked on a casual basis as an nursing assistant at three healthcare facilities, including South Coast Private Hospital, between December 2009 and March 2015, earning a total of $155,737.

However, Honessdisclosed just a fraction of that income to Centrelink, claiming she had only earned $7,015during the same period.

On each occasion Honess either under-declaredher pay or reportedto Centrelink that she had received no income in that reporting fortnight.

Unaware of the deceit and believing Honnes was entitled to receive full welfare benefits,Centrelink authorised $55,900in parenting paymentsbetweenbetween September 2010 and January 2014, and $17,600in Newstartpayments from March 2014 to February 2015.

In total, Honess received approximately $73,000 during the four and a half year period.

However, when her income was factored in, it was revealed she was only eligible to receive $26,000 in welfare assistance, representing an over payment of more than $47,000.

The 41-year-old’songoing scam was uncovered in a data-match investigation between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office.

In court on Thursday, defence lawyerKaitlin Isabellasought the preparation of a background report from Community Corrections and asked for the case to be adjourned so Honess could attend a financial literacy program.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart agreed to list the matter for sentencing on January 12.

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