WorkSafe gives 37 compensation fraudsters the flick

An ongoing clampdown by Victoria’s workplace safety watchdog has weeded out a new crop of compensation fraudsters who think they’re above the law.

WorkSafe terminated 37 fraudulent claims with a combined projected lifetime cost to the workers compensation scheme of $20.64 million in the 2022-23 financial year.

A further 25 people were prosecuted during the period on fraud-related matters, with restitution, fines and costs totalling almost $1 million.

WorkSafe Executive Director Insurance Roger Arnold said he was proud of the work being done by WorkSafe in identifying and prosecuting those rorting the system.

“Fraud is proportionally very low within Victoria’s workers compensation scheme, but there’s always a shifty few who think they’ll get away with breaking the law,” Mr Arnold said.

“While advances in technology continue to assist us in identifying these fraudsters, one of our best sources of information are people disgusted with the illegal behaviour – often it is a friend, family member, or colleague who gives us the information.”

The largest restitution order in the 2022-23 financial year was made against a 58-year-old Melton West man who had claimed to be injured while stepping out of his truck at a job site.

However, a WorkSafe investigation found that the day before the claim was lodged the man had twice called an ambulance for intense hip and leg pain as he returned from a V8 Supercars event at Phillip Island. He was convicted and placed on a two-year Community Corrections Order to repay $143,982 in compensation and perform 180 hours of unpaid community work.

Other workers compensation fraudsters prosecuted included:

  • A man convicted of two fictitious claims of falling off a ladder and being hit by a falling beam using the names of employers he didn’t work for repaid $134,925 and was placed on an 18 month Community Correction Order with 300 hours of unpaid work.
  • A machine operator and business owner was ordered to repay $110,920 and placed on a 24-month Community Correction Order with 240 hours of community work after he continued to work while receiving benefits for a crush injury to both feet.
  • A cook who suffered an arm and chest injury while moving a dishwasher at an aged care centre repaid $93,767 and was fined $10,000 after buying and operating a Hawthorn café while obtaining compensation payments.
  • A man who worked as a cleaner and sex worker while receiving compensation for a workplace back injury was placed on an 18-month Community Correction Order with 200 hours of unpaid community work and repay $74,744.

WorkSafe Director Investigations Peter Collins said workers compensation payments can be terminated prior to a prosecution being launched where sufficient evidence is found that payments have been obtained illegally.

“Make no mistake, those foolish enough to try and rort Victoria’s workers compensation scheme will be caught by WorkSafe’s ever-increasing arsenal of fraud detection measures,” Mr Collins said.

“Fraudsters not only face financial punishment, but also the prospect of a conviction, which can affect all facets of their life, including future job opportunities and overseas travel.”

Source: WorkSafe Vic

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