Centrelink's data matching technology has helped land a two year jail sentence for a 65-year-old identity fraudster who worked while receiving AU$100,000 in government benefits.
The Sydney-based 65-year-old widow, Lydia Dombrowski, had received AU$102,700 in welfare payments over the past decade, during which time she worked full-time under a false identity.
Interagency data matching triggers police investigation. Credit: Department of Human Services
Centrelink detected the fraud as a result of a data-matching exercise between it and the Australian Tax Office.
"Improved technology and data-matching capability has allowed Centrelink to become increasingly successful in identifying cases of welfare fraud," said Minister for Human Services, Senator Joe Ludwig.
The data matching exercise produced a lead that was followed up by the Australian Federal Police.
"This lead was followed by an extensive investigation and the execution of a search warrant by the Australian Federal Police, during which documents in both names were found," Senator Ludwig said.
The woman pleaded guilty to the charge and has been ordered by the court to repay AU$99,870 to Centrelink.
In December last year, an audit into Centrelink's IT refresh program cited the department's increased data matching capabilities as the major source of its AU$400 million savings since the tech refresh.
Centrelink regularly conducts data-matching exercises with the ATO, Department of Immigration and Citizenships and also Births, Deaths and Marriage registries, according to a spokesperson. Last financial year, 3,355 cases of welfare fraud were successfully prosecuted.