Law finally catches up with flood fund fraudster

A WOMAN who defrauded the State Government of more than $1000 in emergency flood funding has been fined.

Margaret Riak, 23, pleaded guilty at the Ipswich Magistrates Court this week to two counts of fraud.

The court heard after the 2013 floods Riak went to the flood relief centre at the Ipswich Showgrounds on February 2, and to a similar centre in Marooka on February 15.

Riak, who the court heard moved to Australia in 2003 as a refugee from Sudan, told workers from both centres she had lost power in her house.

At the Marooka centre, she said she had lost up to $400 worth of groceries following the loss of power.

During both applications she signed forms stating her claims were accurate and said she knew falsely obtaining assistance was an offence. She was issued with $540 on each occasion.

The court heard following the floods Energex gave police detailed statements of which properties lost power during the flood.

According to the statements Riak's house did not lose power.

When interviewed by police she told them she thought the money was for anyone who "needed help" and she had used it to fix her car.

Magistrate Donna McCallum described Riak's fraud as "serious" and said it was the latest in a long string of people who had abused the emergency funding assistance program.

"This money is literally given for emergencies," she said.

"However, it seems a fair number of people seem to think it's OK to take the money because they need it."

She was fined $880 and ordered to pay $1080 in restitution to the State Government.

Topics:  fraud ipswich magistrates court

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