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Centrelink are alleging I have committed intentional fraud. I'll break it down I started a fulltime job (my first ever) I was through a centrelink job agency at the time Everyone including centrelink

Kept advising me "report your30hours a week otherwise your payments stop" I was a s/mum so i HAD to work 30 hours. It was drilled into me so much about report 30hours thats all i thought I had to do. I had an investigator contact me in Jan, who advised me what i was doing (I have been reporting correctly ever since). She told me she understood and I would get a letter for over payment which was fine i kept apologizing and telling her id pay it back but not one person explained how I had to report, not centrelink their job agency etc it was just drilled about the 30hours per fortnight. I haven't received that letter yet but I just got one to say i need to go in for a formal interview as they believe I intentionally committed this. I am so upset & anxiety ridden, i suffer with severe anxiety&depression this has thrown me, I am the sole carer of my child. I know it is a big amount I need to pay back & I have no issues with that im just scared about prosecution has anyone experienced this?


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Answers (9)

If you were told you would get a letter advising of a fine, and you didnt, and they are now treating you as if you received the letter and ignored it and did nothing, perhaps ask them for proof that you were sent the letter in the first place.
They are a nightmare to phone, but it might be worth trying that to find out if you were sent a letter, and when it was posted.
Take notes about that call.
In future write down notes from every interaction you have with them. Maybe have a dedicated notebook that you use just for Centrelink.
Take down the names and employee numbers, if they will give them to you, of who you speak to, and notes on exactly what they said.
They should have notes on their files about every interaction with you, but it sounds like something has slipped through the cracks.
Phone them and ask how you can start making voluntary repayments, or if you can request a reduction in the amount they pay you to start the repayment process.
Also, I am sure there are free legal advisory services, perhaps ring Lifeline to see if they know of any in your area, and explain what has happened.
Thats all I can advise with the information you have provided.

 Great advise except they don't take notes on every call like we think. I learnt the hard way that even if you are talking to them for hours), eg back and forth call person checking with supervisors etc, they aren't obligated to make notes! And from my experience rarely do when it counts the mos(perhaps to avoid trouble for them partially or they just don't care- the call people that is)!
helpful (0) 

I am going to be straight to the point, as I speak from experience. Not sure if the situation has resolved or not, but here are my two bits of information. Firstly, with the interview, they are fishing for information and they will most likely have a person from the office in the room; as well as the interviewee. DO NOT under any circumstances trust them when they say, no-one will know. It is a smokescreen to gain your trust. Have someone with you and document everything. You are just a number to them. If you did commit the offence; own it, pay it back and take the punishment dished out in court. If they feel your intentions were fraudulent; most likely this will go all the way to the CDPP - Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions. These guys have zero tolerance for this form of behaviour and will take it all the way to court. I have been there and fought them via the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The matter still went to court and I was convicted. I own the mistakes I did 6 years ago and my circumstances were very different then are they know, but admitting your faults and owning them is the first step in putting this mess behind you. Now saying jail time won't happen, is all dependent on the amount; length of deceit and the sophistication behind it, and prior records. Also, they will make it hard to repay the money on your terms. It took up to a year from the initial investigation before they allowed me to repay the debt - all $567 worth.

I apologise for my bluntness, however, I have been there and through my own stupid reasonings, I have a criminal record that will stick for another 5 years. I have no patience for people who try to make excuses for their behaviour. Own it and move on to find ways to make your life better. What we don't realise when we make these mistakes are the people we affect. It's like a domino effect.

 All that for $567?! Is that it?
helpful (1) 
 Yes! That was it! The amount is irrelevant. If they want to prosecute they will and they won't care for your reasonings.
helpful (1) 
 wow can I ask what the circumstances were ? never heard of them cracking down on such a small amount before.
helpful (2) 

Go to legal aid and explain the situation. They have lawyers who deal specifically with centrelink.

It is no excuse! Every single time you report you are asked how many hours you worked and how much you were paid. If you read your agreement at the job agency you would know your obligations.
You do not have to work 30 hours , if you do not meet the 30 hour requirement you must actively look for work.
Ignorance and stupidity is not going to get you out of this, you have committed fraud, deal with the conquences.

 Nasty. Not everyone has clarity with these things get off your high horse. Ignorant attitude.
helpful (7) 
 How can you not have clarity when reporting earnings to Centrelink? You are asked what you have earned from * date to * date and the hours for those dates.
I was wrong bringing ignorance into this as there is no real way one could be ignorant to what the op has done.
Regardless of how one reports they are clear on what they expect.

helpful (0) 
 Are they really clear on what to expect? I never had instructions for reporting either and it took ringing them after my payments didn't go in on the normal day to realise I had to. Then I was told to do it on mygov next time. It's not always easy, nobody is born with the knowledge to do it
helpful (1) 
 I wish I could post snap shots. I don’t think they could be anymore clear. Reporting online/in person or by phone they ask the same questions.
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Check your my gov account. The letter may be there.

I intentionally commited fraud by working as well as claiming single parent pension , I owed over $15,000.
I've written about my outcome lots in this forum and there are a couple of other women that have too. Search "Centrelink fraud" and heaps will come up.
I confessed, was not prosecuted and had to repay the debt at $100 per fornigjht.
How much do you owe?

 May have helped that you confessed. Blaming it on job agencies etc is ridiculous
helpful (1) 
 That's right .... it's not a Job Agency's responsibility to make sure you keep up with Centrelink obligations
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 The job agencies are to blame in some cases, mine was always giving me conflicting information in regards to centrelink and also signed me up for 3 different activities without telling me, which meant I did not show and my payment was suspended each time. So useless, as soon as I got a job I cut myself off completely even though I worked less than 40 hours a week and still had to by their rules. I would rather do without all the bullshit.
helpful (0) 
 In your case they were to blame for your payment being suspended due to their extra activities being added.
Whole different ball park to op blaming them for reporting incorrectly.
My mum used to say if he told you to jump of the Sydney harbour bridge would you? When I used to blame my brother for telling me to do stupid shit.

helpful (0) 
 Thats the thing though you are led to believe you need to do what they say because all their computer systems correlate (I hope I have used the right word there), an instruction from them is the same as one from Centrelink.
helpful (2) 

You can always plead your case in writing to the ombudsman and it sounds like you are genuine. Most people don’t go to jail so please try and stop stressing x

Sounds like they're acting as though you've ignored the first letter. Id make the time and ring and find out, see if they'll send that first one again and cancel the meeting as you've not intentionally ignored it if it never arrived