Sniffing, snitches nab Centrelink cheats

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Sniffing, snitches nab Centrelink cheats

Report says Centrelink's fraud detection strategies are working.

Increased use of cross-agency data matching and identity checks, and willing snitches are helping Centrelink crackdown on fraud.

A report by the Australian Institute of Criminology (pdf) showed while incidents and convictions of Centrelink fraud had plateaued, the agency had ramped up security and integrity checks between government agencies and on customers.

Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor said the agency's anti-fraud methods were some of the best in the world.

“The study found that Centrelink reflects international best practice in stopping welfare fraud against the taxpayer," O’Connor said.

“Fraud against the Commonwealth is a significant concern and welfare payments are an area of vulnerability."

During 2008 - 2009, Centrelink recovered $113 million over four data-matching cycles and 53,643 reviews.

Other techniques, including public tip-offs, secured a further $113 million over 26,100 reviews.

The report said Centrelink's Proof of Identity requirements exceed that required by banks and noted "significant improvements" in the area.

Outsourced covert surveillance has seen Centrelink score more than a five-fold increase in debt recovery to $21 million since operations began in 1999. The number of covert investigations remained at about 1000 a year.

"The current approach is showing considerable impact in detetcing fraud and stopping its continuation, " said Professor Tim Prenzler, author of the report.

Centrelink fraud by the numbers (2006-2009)

$1.4b made in overpayments and investigation costs.

166 prosecution referrals made by Centrelink’s ID fraud unit.

15.7% of investigations led to cancellations or payment cuts

$4347 saved per investigation.
.04% of Centrelink customers were prosecuted.

$380 million in gross savings produced from investigations.

98.8% CDPP conviction rate.

26.2% of invalid payments were fraudulent.

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