|Date||13 August 2021|
Charge One – Fraud – Section 533(1) – Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
Charge Two – Failing to notify insurer of an engagement in a calling – Section 136 – Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
Charge Three – Knowingly stating false or misleading information to WorkCover – Section 534(2) – Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
Charge Four – Knowingly stating false or misleading information to WorkCover – Section 534(2) – Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
Charge Five – Attempted Fraud – Section 533(1) – Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
|Court||Brisbane Magistrates Court|
The worker was charged for failing to notify the insurer of their engagement in a calling as a labourer/assistant carpenter and for providing false or misleading information about their working status to the insurer.
The worker also attempted to defraud the insurer during their common law proceedings based on dishonest representations that they could not return to work as a labourer/assistant carpenter.
On 19 March 2019, the worker lodged an application for compensation with the insurer in respect of an injury they sustained to their left thumb in the course of their employment as an assistant carpenter.
On 20 March 2019, the insurer accepted the worker’s claim and commenced paying the worker compensation with payments continuing until 8 January 2020.
From between 16 July 2019 and 7 December 2019, the worker engaged in a calling by conducting paid work as a labourer/assistant carpenter at a private residence.
The worker completed this work under their own name and ABN and issued a total of 16 invoices. The worker’s bank records revealed they received a total of $13,762.80 from this work.
The worker did not disclose to the insurer that they had engaged in this work while in receipt of compensation or at all. The worker also made various false or misleading statements to the insurer to the effect that they were not working, when at the time they made those statements, they were engaged in their paid work.
The worker also made dishonest representations to a medical practitioner to the effect that they were out of a job, when at the time of their consultation, they were still engaged in their paid work.
As a result of the commission of the fraud offence, the worker obtained $27,063.84 in workers’ compensation.
Following the closure of the worker’s statutory claim, the worker attended a consultation with an independent medical practitioner for the purposes of an assessment of their degree of permanent impairment. During that consultation, the worker made false or misleading representations about their work and employment history and failed to disclose the work they had engaged in during their statutory claim.
On 16 March 2020, the worker signed and lodged a Notice of Claim for Damages (Notice of Claim), claiming a total of $477,828.64 in damages. Within the Notice of Claim, the worker made dishonest representations to the effect that they had not been able to return to work as an assistant carpenter and had significant difficulty in obtaining alternatively employment since their work-related injury. The worker also claimed they had been unable to return to work as a labourer since their injury.
The worker did not disclose in their Notice of Claim that they had worked as a labourer/assistant carpenter from 16 July 2019 to 7 December 2019.
The worker’s offending only came to light during the common law proceedings after the insurer received a tip-off that the worker was engaged in work while receiving workers’ compensation.
14 months imprisonment wholly suspended for two years for the fraud and attempted fraud charges
7 months imprisonment wholly suspended for 2 years for the stating false or misleading charges
Convicted but not further punished for the failing to notify an insurer of an engagement in a calling charge
The terms of imprisonment were ordered to be served concurrently
On the day prior to sentencing, the worker repaid $10,000 of that amount.
The worker was ordered to repay the remaining $17,063.84 to the insurer.
The order was referred to SPER for enforcement.
|Costs||$9,350.00 and referred to SPER for enforcement.|
|Common Law rights extinguished?||Yes|
|Consideration for Prevention|
A worker should be honest and disclose to an insurer and medical practitioners any work they undertake throughout their workers’ compensation claim.
This type of offending is serious and where it is detected it will be prosecuted.