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24-01-2020-Brisbane

Date 24 January 2020
Charges

1 charge pursuant to Section 533 Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (WCRA) – Fraud

18 charges pursuant to Section 534 WCRA – Providing false or misleading information

Court Brisbane Magistrates Court
Plea Plea of Guilty
Case The worker was charged in relation to fraudulently obtaining workers’ compensation by claiming that he had sustained a psychological injury as a result of a robbery during the course of his employment, when the robbery was staged by the worker and two accomplices.
Facts

The worker was employed as a sales assistant at a convenience store. They made a claim for workers’ compensation on 12 July 2013 claiming to have suffered a psychological injury as a result of being held up at knifepoint during a robbery at the store on 7 July 2013.

The worker claimed that they were getting ready to take the garbage bin out at around 7:30pm when someone suddenly came to the store, grabbed them and demanded that they open the safe. The worker claimed that the robber held a knife to their neck while forcing them to open the safe. They claimed that the stranger then threw the money into a bag and left the store.

The claim was accepted, and the worker began receiving compensation for the period beginning 8 July 2013. Payments continued throughout 2014 and 2015 until the claim was finalised in September 2015 when the worker accepted an offer of lump sum compensation.

Throughout the claim, the worker relayed the details of the claimed robbery to the insurer and to the various medical professionals who were treating and assessing them.

The worker continued fabricating psychological symptoms related to the robbery to various people including that:

  • They experience regular flashbacks and nightmares about the robbery when asleep;
  • They hear whispers now (the robber was allegedly whispering at the time of the robbery);
  • They have thoughts of self-harm and feeling of hopelessness;
  • They have PTSD which is getting worse; and
  • They can’t work at the convenience store anymore due to symptoms of anxiety when they are there.

Some 21 months after the claim was finalised, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) notified the insurer that the robbery was in fact staged and that the worker and two others had planned for the others to wear a disguise, enter the business and pretend to rob the worker at knifepoint.

The QPS charged the worker with the offences of “stealing by clerks and servants” and “making a false declaration”. The worker admitted to their involvement in the staged robbery and those admissions, coupled with their plea of guilty to the QPS charges, served as incontrovertible evidence that the workers’ compensation claim had been made fraudulently.

Penalty

Fraud charge - 18 months imprisonment with immediate release on parole.

18x False or misleading information charges – for each charge, 3 months imprisonment with immediate release on parole.

Restitution $116,616.22
Costs $12,807.36
Common Law rights extinguished? Yes
Conviction Recorded
Consideration for Prevention The workers’ compensation scheme is there to assist workers who are genuinely injured, and workers should not seek to undermine this system by fraudulently claiming workers’ compensation for injuries that did not occur.