Flood cheats 'should be ashamed'

AN IPSWICH man who made a fake claim to gain $11,000 in emergency relief grants by lying about the flood damage done to property in his house has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

There are currently more than 1000 cases of flood grand fraud before the courts, including Tuafoa Ete, who lied in a statutory declaration and listed items lost at his Goodna home in January last year.

He was handed $11,000 but police investigated and discovered many of the items hadn't been destroyed.

Magistrate Michael Quinn told Ete he hoped he was "thoroughly ashamed" of himself.

"You took advantage of money that was there for people who lost everything," Mr Quinn said.

Ete pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and was sentenced to six months prison, wholly suspended for 18 months.

Last week another flood cheat pleaded guilty to fraud and will spend two months behind bars.

Dean Anthony Baldwin, 29, was living in a house in Melbourne St, Brassall, when the street was inundated with flood water last January.

The area was slammed by the torrent with most homes destroyed, but he and his partner Shona Renee Lloyd, 28, lied about water coming above the floor of the upper level.

Prosecutors said the home's electricity meter box, which was on the lower level of the home, was not touched by floodwaters.

Baldwin claimed $1500 he wasn't entitled to and Lloyd claimed $3510. The pair had already claimed $6000 in emergency relief shortly after the flood hit.

In July Tuputala Ropati, 34, faced court where it was revealed she made six separate fake claims for flood relief money, notching up $5100 she wasn't entitled to.

The court was told Ropati would claim up to $850 at a time.

In sentencing, Magistrate Donna MacCallum said she couldn't accept Ropati "didn't know" the payments were a one-off.

"That explanation doesn't ring true and has an air of dishonesty about it," Ms MacCallum said.

Ropati, who has no criminal history, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud and was sentenced to six months prison which was suspended for 12 months.

In another case, Tony Arthur Keasey, 51, claimed more than $1500 he wasn't entitled to and will spend a month behind bars for fraud.

On February 1 and 3 he claimed payments of $1530 at Goodna and the Ipswich Showgrounds by lying about having a partner and children to support.

The court heard Keasey had 68 convictions for fraud on his three-page criminal history, with the last two counts taking the total to 70.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and was sentenced to four months prison, to be suspended after one month for an operational period of three years, and was also ordered to pay restitution.

Topics:  flood fraud

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