A WOOLI woman who was overpaid close to $40,000 by Centrelink after failing to properly report her income will need to be on her best behaviour for the next 18 months.
On Monday, Stacey Dugmore pleaded guilty in Grafton Local Court to three counts of obtaining a financial advantage from a Commonwealth entity.
According to the charges, Dugmore repeatedly under- reported her earnings as a bartender for two companies, during three time periods from July 2012 to June 2016, while claiming a Newstart Allowance.
In total, she was overpaid $39,588.01.
The offending was first detected by a data-match carried out by the Australian Tax Office on September 29, 2015, with a letter sent the following day.
Defence solicitor Greg Coombes said the 45-year-old mother of three had a limited criminal history, and was already repaying the money because she knew what she did was "extremely wrong".
Mr Coombes told the court Dugmore had an unemployed boyfriend at the time of the offences, which may have added to her "financial pressure".
Magistrate Robyn Denes took the explanation into account but said the case was purely an issue of greed, noting that by under-reporting, Dugmore could have been eligible for other benefits provided by Newstart, including rent assistance and healthcare benefits, that other working community members would not have access to.
"She was working and earning a decent wage, but it wasn't enough," Magistrate Denes said.
"We're talking about a significant about of money here."
The magistrate also underlined the seriousness of the offence.
"Social security fraud really undermines the whole system," she said.
"You were paying tax at your work... it's kind of stealing from yourself."
Dugmore was convicted of the offences and sentenced to a 18-month good behaviour bond.
She was also ordered to repay $36,167.22 to the government institution.
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