Bend­ing the rules can land you in trou­ble

NT News - - BUSINESS -

THIS week’s mar­kets around Dar­win and Palmer­ston could be in­ter­est­ing places to be. Busi­ness Con­fi­den­tial has learned at least one Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment agency is not afraid to take a closer look at those sell­ing prod­ucts and claim­ing ben­e­fits. Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices gen­eral man­ager Hank Jon­gen said while they were not “specif­i­cally tar­get­ing” stall hold­ers, “in­di­vid­u­als may come to our at­ten­tion through any of the ac­tiv­i­ties we reg­u­larly un­der­take, in­clud­ing data match­ing and fol­low­ing up tip-offs from the com­mu­nity.”

One of the tricks is where sup­plier prod­ucts are sold at dif­fer­ent stalls with a mark-up but only the in­come from the pri­mary stall is claimed. Mr Jon­gen said if a per­son in­ten­tion­ally pro­vided in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion or was be­ing dis­hon­est to get a pay­ment, they were com­mit­ting wel­fare fraud.

“Peo­ple are re­quired to pay back any money they have been over­paid,” he said. “The depart­ment reg­u­larly re­views peo­ple’s en­ti­tle­ments to en­sure they re­ceive the cor­rect rate of pay­ment based on their cir­cum­stances. If we be­come aware that a per­son’s cir­cum­stances have changed, we get in touch early to help them avoid a debt in the first place. We of­fer flex­i­ble re­pay­ment op­tions to peo­ple who have been over­paid. Where there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal be­hav­iour, par­tic­u­larly where it is or­gan­ised, mat­ters will be re­ferred to the Com­mon­wealth Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.”

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