Mother jailed for Centrelink fraud

A mother who fleeced tens of thousands of dollars off Centrelink despite earning more than $100,000 over the period she was claiming benefits sobbed as she made her way to jail.

Stephanie Marie Lumb, 25, was receiving Centrelink handouts while she was unemployed, but didn't notify the Government when she started working at a service station, bringing home $108,000 in just under two years.

Lumb pleaded guilty to one count of fraud when she fronted Townsville Magistrates Court today.

She cried as police escorted her out of the courtroom after she was sentenced to nine months jail.

The court heard the single mother of two children claimed more than $33,000 in social security benefits just under a two-year period.

She's since paid back just $183.

Commonwealth prosecutor Renee Guilfoyle said in 2016 Lumb advised the Department of Human Services that she was unemployed and not receiving any income.

When Lumb obtained work at Liberty service stations, she failed to declare her employment to the department and was subsequently over paid in benefits she was not entitled to.

The offending was detected by the Australian Taxation Office on March 6, 2018.

In August 2018, Lumb was invited to participate in an interview as part of the investigation, which she declined.

Ms Guilfoyle said social security offending was prevalent and relatively easy to do.

"The social security system relies on the honesty of its recipients, as strict supervision would be expensive and would delay payments to genuine applicants.

Defence lawyer Arthur Browne said Lumb had been experiencing a bout of depression and anxiety when she lied to the department to obtain benefits.

Magistrate Peter Smid said Lumb had tried to "double dip" and jump the "queue".

"You provided false statements to the department … it's easy to commit and hard to detect," Mr Smid said.

"A lot of people depend on social security, you tried to walk around the queue."

Lumb was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, to be released after two spent in custody on $1000 recognisance.

She will also have to pay back all of the outstanding money she was overpaid.