Two fraud convictions in one week
Prosecution of fraud against the Return to Work scheme is off to a busy start in 2016 with two convictions in one week.
In the first case, a woman was convicted of 15 counts of dishonestly obtaining benefits and received a penalty of four months imprisonment, which was suspended.
The woman, an enrolled nurse, injured her shoulder in May 2013. Later that same year, while still receiving full income maintenance, she began working with two separate agencies but did not report this to the claims agent managing her claim. As a result, the woman was ordered by the court to repay $3,945 to ReturnToWorkSA as well as $3,844 investigation costs and $800 in prosecution costs.
In sentencing, Magistrate Foley emphasised the importance of general deterrence when it came to matters involving the Return to Work scheme.
The second matter involved two counts of dishonestly making a statement. The man forged two doctor’s certificates in order to avoid attending a work readiness placement, organised on his behalf by his case manager to assist him prepare for a return to the workplace.
Upon receiving the medical certificates, the man’s case manager immediately had concerns as to their validity and followed up with the doctor who had purportedly signed the certificates. He quickly confirmed that he had never treated nor issued any medical certificates to the man.
Magistrate O’Connor convicted the man of both offences and imposed as a global penalty, a fine of $6,300, reduced from $9,000 due to his plea of guilty. She also ordered the man to pay investigation costs of $3,056.16 together with Court Costs of $302.75 and a Victim of Crime Levies Of $320.00.
In her sentencing remarks, Magistrate O’Connor said that offending of the nature in this case frustrates the aims of the scheme and the costs … and these increased costs are ultimately paid by the business and community at large.
ReturnToWorkSA’s General Manager Regulation Michael Francis said that for the new scheme to work it was important for both workers, employers and providers to do the right thing.
“We are taking an active approach to ensuring that the performance of the scheme is managed by looking at the activities of all participants.
“In addition to these recent successful prosecutions, we have a number of active investigations in to labour hire companies and host employers as part of our crackdown on fraudulent behaviour.
“Regulating the scheme is an important function of ReturnToWorkSA to ensure it the work injury insurance we offer remains affordable for South Australian employers.
“When individuals and businesses don’t do the right thing, it increases the costs for all employers."