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Benefit fraudster Leticia Drake could lose her home

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 04:53 PM

Benefit fraudster Leticia Drake could lose her home


Last updated 10:20, May 14 2016

A mother of two who ripped off the Government for more than 15 years – committing a $185,000 benefit fraud – has been sent to jail and may lose her house.

Leticia Margaret Drake, 39, lied to the Ministry of Social Development about her relationship status so she could claim various benefits to feed a gambling addiction.

Drake told the ministry three times that the father of her two children had ditched her for another woman. However, when investigators went to her home in Shirley, Christchurch, in April last year, he greeted them at the door.

Evidence showed the pair had been in a de facto relationship from the date Drake applied for the benefit, January 21, 2000. She had also not reported money earned elsewhere which would have changed her level of entitlement.

The total amount obtained fraudulently was $185,623.

According to the summary of facts, Drake, who has a history of similar fraud, told investigators she committed the offending because she did not think anyone would find out and it was easy to do.

She admitted 15 charges of obtaining by deception and last week at the Christchurch District Court was jailed for two years and nine months.

Judge Raoul Neave
said a pre-sentence report indicated Drake had a significant problem with gambling and "poor decision making".

"That is putting it mildly," the judge said.

"This is behaviour that has bedevilled the defendant all of her adult life and she seems to have been a somewhat slow learner as to the undesirability of fuelling this behaviour by access to money which is not hers."

The Crown submitted that Drake's offending was "chronic and habitual".

Detective Senior Sergeant Stu McGowan said Drake's house and a quantity of cash had been restrained under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.

Ministry of Social Development associate deputy chief executive, service delivery, Marama Edwards said Drake was among a small number of people who did not tell the ministry about changes that could affect their payments.

"This case highlights a typical category of fraud – someone deliberately failing to tell us that they are living in a relationship.

"The sentence indicates the court has taken a harsh view of her offending and of the fact she is a repeat offender."

Edwards said the ministry had a dedicated team of investigators and an intelligence unit working to identify fraud.

Techniques used to detect benefit fraud included data matching with other government agencies. A tip-line received thousands of calls each year, she said.

In 2014-15 there were 927 successful prosecutions brought by the ministry for fraud totalling $31.1 million

- Stuff

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