Woman pretended baby was alive for 15 years to con $200K from Centrelink

The woman received more than $200,000 in child payments from Centrelink with the elaborate con over a 15-year period. Source: Getty

A woman who dressed up a doll in a bid to continue claiming Centrelink payments after her baby daughter died is due to be sentenced later this year.

According to an AAP report, Alison Christie Mains, 41, received more than $200,000 in child payments as a result of the elaborate con over a 15-year period, from 1998 until 2013, despite her baby girl, Tyler Marie, having died just five months after she was born in August 1998.

A court heard the defendant claimed Child Carer Allowance, Family Tax Benefit and Parenting Payment Single for years afterwards. Mains reportedly told the government service she was caring for her disabled daughter who was born with a “serious neurological condition”.

The AAP reported the woman, who had a range of issues, including alcohol abuse, claimed $209,114 in child benefits she wasn’t entitled to, failed to notify Centrelink of the death and made false representations that her child was still alive by dressing up a doll and pretending it was her.

On Wednesday, the woman pleaded guilty to three counts each of obtaining financial advantage by deception and defrauding the Commonwealth.

“Ms Mains accepts that she received a range of payments relating to a deceased child during a period when she was not entitled to,” her barrister Marty Bernhaut said, according to reports.

“She absolutely accepts that and she did make false representations to Centrelink that her child was alive and in her care and had various disabilities that required additional care.

“The offending began as a result of Ms Mains’ daughter dying in horrific, tragic circumstances, aged five months.”

Bernhaut also noted the defendant is illiterate, jobless, has a background of “significant deprivation” and would have been entitled to $69,696.20 in Newstart allowance during the 15-year period due to her “limited cognitive ability”.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Frank Farah told the court Mains “intentionally deceived Centrelink so she could get more money”.

“It was so speculative that you certainly can’t give it a mathematical figure but you can take it into account subjectively.”

The sentencing was adjourned until September 2019.

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