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$125,000 Welfare Scam Ends in Jail

Posted on Feb 07, 2006 | Herald-Sun

Christine Caulfield

A husband and wife have been jailed after falsely claiming more than $125,000 in welfare payments.

Endeavour Hills couple Patrick, 57, and Jean Snow, 56, adopted false identities to claim extra social security benefits for six years.

They were sentenced to 15 months in jail but will be freed in six months on good behaviour bonds.

The County Court heard the Snows scammed Centrelink between 1998 and 2004 to support their three sons, two of whom were drug addicts.

Judge Phillip Coish said they were legally getting disability pensions but double-dipped to meet the adult children's demands.

He said the couple was forced to apply for intervention orders against their sons, who were a source of "great stress and anxiety".

The court heard the pair was having their pensions docked by $55 a fortnight to repay the debt.

Mr Snow pleaded guilty to defrauding the Commonwealth and obtaining property by deception.

His wife, who helped her illiterate husband fill out Centrelink forms, pleaded guilty to two counts of defrauding the Commonwealth and obtaining property by deception.

Judge Coish said the long-term welfare recipients each had been convicted of social security fraud and their prospects for rehabilitation were cloudy.

Centrelink general manager Hank Jongen said the sentence highlighted the seriousness of welfare fraud. More than 800 Victorians were prosecuted for welfare fraud of $10 million last financial year

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