Gladstone mum jailed for $100K Centrelink fraud
IT WAS an emotional goodbye for the family of a Gladstone woman who was imprisoned on Friday after a court was told details of her $100,000 "revenue fraud".
Melissa Ann Williams pleaded guilty in the District Court at Gladstone on Friday to two counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and was sentenced to 2.5 years' jail.
The court was told Williams' fraud began in 2012 and continued until 2017; Williams failed to declare her income and on three occasions, underdeclared the amount of money she was being paid in her job.
The 47-year-old was paid more than $88,000 in benefits she was not entitled.
The court was told Williams also claimed she was renting privately, when she was actually living in public housing, and claimed about $14,000 in rent assistance she was not entitled.
The Australian Taxation Office became aware of Williams' fraud when a data match revealed she had underdeclared her income.
The department also requested a rent review from Williams.
The court was told she continued her offending for almost a year before she was questioned by authorities in October 2017.
Defence barrister Tom Polley said his client, Williams, suffered a traumatic childhood exposed to violence.
Mr Polley told the court Williams' late husband was involved in drugs and left Williams' in financial debt and stress.
Williams was also left to raise four children on her own. Mr Polley told the court Williams' daughters were very supportive of her.
The court was told Williams worked as a commercial cleaner and has paid back about $20,000 of the overpayment she received.
Judge Vicki Loury said "revenue fraud" had to be viewed seriously by the courts.
Judge Loury sentenced Williams to 2.5 years' jail to be released after serving nine months.
After nine months Williams will be on a good behaviour recognisance for 2.5 years.
Williams was also ordered to pay back $82,352 to the department.