How a woman's lies have cost her $25,000 - and her home

By Michele McPherson

A Tauranga woman told officials lies for 18 months so she could live in a cheap home partly bankrolled by taxpayers.
But she got caught - and has lost her home, faces a criminal conviction and has to pay back $25,000.
The Parkvale woman's case has been revealed this week after an 18-month Housing New Zealand investigation exposed 166 fraud cases - including two in Tauranga. The woman, who has not been named, failed to declare the true extent of her income during the 18 months she lived at the house.
After the investigation was completed in February, the woman was evicted from the house, faced a prosecution for fraud, and was ordered to repay the debt of $25,000.
In the second case, a woman living at a Welcome Bay house failed to declare that her partner was also living at the property.
Housing New Zealand manager of investigations Kane Patena told the  Bay of Plenty Times that tenant also failed to declare the true extent of her income.
"In that particular case the corporation didn't have to issue her with a notice to end the tenancy, she gave that back voluntarily.
"That happens [sometimes] when tenants realise they are being investigated, particularly if the case against them is strong."
That investigation was completed in August last year. Mr Patena said Housing New Zealand considered these types of cases to be extremely serious.
"Not only are these people receiving taxpayers' assets and taxpayers' money they are not entitled to, they are also depriving many families the opportunity of state housing support.
"If you look at the Parkvale case, the tenant was in that house [almost two years].

That's two years someone else has missed out on that opportunity."
The 166 tenancies terminated nationwide included situations where tenants failed to advise Housing New Zealand about income from employment, business interests, assets, or that they lived with a partner. More than 130 cases of tenant-related fraud have been placed before the courts - a ten-fold increase from two years ago.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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