Benefit cheat ventured into forgery

December 1, 2017 | By More

A judge has rejected a woman’s claim that she was put under pressure to commit benefit fraud to support her family in Samoa.

The woman’s $52,595 benefit fraud included more serious criminal charges – using forged documents to keep the benefit payments coming.

Christchurch District Court Judge Tony Couch said: “I am sure her family would not expect her to commit criminal offences to support them. I expect they are people of some morality.”

Defence counsel Margaret Smyth had cited the family pressure at the sentencing for Maria Fui, 48, who had admitted two charges of obtaining funds by deception, two of dishonestly using documents, and two of using forged documents. Some of the charges were representative, covering more than one offence.

She said Fui had not told her current employer of the offending, but her church was aware of it and she asked that Fui be allowed to serve any community work sentence through the church.

However, Judge Couch said he was going to impose home detention and the employer would have to be told about the sentence.

Fui spoke to the judge from the dock, apologising to him and to the Ministry of Social Development for her offending. She promised that the courts would never see her again. However, Judge Couch told her she really needed to apologise to her neighbours and all the taxpayers of New Zealand.

The court was told she had been paying the losses back at $80 a week for the last 18 months. Judge Couch calculated it would take her 13 years to repay all of it.

He noted that Fui had relevant previous convictions in 1992 for dishonestly using a document over an immigration issue, and 2002 for dishonestly using a document and misleading a social welfare officer.

From 2013, when she was on a benefit and receiving income-related rent, she had failed to disclose work she was doing and had claimed she was living apart from her husband, which was not true.

Judge Couch said it was more serious than the usual benefit fraud cases because she had used forged documents that grossly understated her earnings. “It was premeditated,” he said. “It was part of an ongoing scheme to defraud the State.”

He imposed 10 months of home detention at an address in Hornby.

Tags: , , ,

Category: News

Pin It on Pinterest