Fraudster avoids jail after scamming Centrelink out of $72K in welfare payments

Hina Kollie, falsely declaring his income to Centrelink which in turn led to the receipt of tens of thousands of dollars in NewStart Allowance payments he was not entitled to. Source: Getty

An Adelaide man has reportedly been spared jail after unlawfully obtaining a whopping $72,000 in welfare payments to financially assist his family in Africa.

According to the news outlet, Kollie pleaded guilty to five counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception during the period between October 2012 and December 2017.

“On a total of 85 occasions during a non-continuous five-year period of offending (Kollie) falsely declared the amount of (his)… income from paid employment … to the Department of Human Services,” Judge Michael Boylan reportedly said in court.

“In those statements to the department, (he) did not declare the income that (he) had earned from (his) employment.”

According to The Advertiser, the court heard that Kollie, who is originally from Liberia, was being pressured by his family to send money home to help them. It’s reported that they called him numerous times a week begging for money and Kollie couldn’t handle the upset.

“(Kollie) found his entreaties extremely upsetting and (he) gave into them, sending usually something between $300 to $400 per week,” Boylan reportedly added in court.

Kollie received a sentence of two years and six months in jail for his crime, however, this was suspended on the basis of a two year good behaviour bond.

The 35-year-old was also ordered to pay back $68,727.38 of the money received to the Human Services Department.

The sentence comes just weeks after it was revealed a woman dressed up a doll in a bid to continue claiming Centrelink payments after her baby daughter died.

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.

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.”

Starts at 60 has reached out to the Department of Human Services for comment.

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