Criminal Law > Criminal Offences > Fraud > Centrelink Fraud

Centrelink Fraud

Centrelink Fraud is a Commonwealth offence and therefore prosecuted by Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

The most common Centrelink offences are as follows:

Obtaining property by deception– 134.1- Criminal Code 1995

Where a person, by a deception, dishonestly obtains property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of the property, and the property belongs to a Commonwealth entity.


Obtaining of property belonging to another may be dishonest even if the person or another person is willing to pay for the property.

Obtaining a financial advantage by deception– 134.2 Criminal Code 1995

Where a person by a deception, dishonestly obtains a financial advantage from another person, and the other person is a Commonwealth entity.

Obtaining financial advantage– 135.2 Criminal Code 1995

Where a person engages in conduct; and as a result of that conduct, the person obtains a financial advantage for himself or herself from another person; and the person knows or believes that he or she is not eligible to receive that financial advantage; and the other person is a Commonwealth entity.

Maximum Penalties
Sections Offence Maximum Penalty
Obtaining property by deception
10 years imprisonment
Obtaining a financial advantage by deception
10 years imprisonment
Obtaining financial advantage
12 months imprisonment
Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

The offence is established if the commonwealth can prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • Your omissions or acts caused you to obtain financial benefit from the Centrelink
  • You knew you were not eligible to receive those financial benefits

Defences to this charge

Duress- where you were threatened or coerced into committing the offence

Necessity- Where you committed the offence to prevent serious injury or death or another person.

Mental illness- Where you were suffering from a mental illness at the relevant time  

Pleading Guilty

It is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options.

If you decide or have been advised to plead guilty to Centrelink fraud after receiving legal advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer, it is crucial that your case is sufficiently prepared to maximise your chances at obtaining a lenient sentence. 

Utilitarian Value or 25% discount on punishment

The discount for the utilitarian value of the plea of guilty will be determined largely by the timing of your plea entered. That means, the earlier you enter a plea of guilty, the greater discount you receive on your punishment and also the type of sentence you receive.

The utilitarian value of a delayed plea is less and consequently the discount is reduced.

Types of Penalties

Types of penalties the Judge can impose on you include any one of the following:

Our expert defence team at Criminal Lawyers Sydney may be able to negotiate the police ‘facts’ to reduce the seriousness of the offence.

Our team will guide you on obtaining materials which can be handed-up to the court during your sentencing – including a letter of apology, character references and any documents from counsellors or health care professionals you have consulted.

These materials, together with persuasive verbal submissions by your lawyer in the courtroom, can help to ensure you receive the most lenient penalty that is possible in the circumstances.

If you have been charged with AVO or contravene AVO, call Criminal Lawyers Sydney anytime on (02) 91528619 to arrange a free first conference with one of our experienced AVO lawyers who will review the allegations and advise you of your options and the best way forward.