62 Wairarapa convictions for fraud in a year

By Brendan Manning

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More than 60 fraud convictions were handed down in Wairarapa last financial year, the majority for obtaining by deception.

Last November, a Masterton woman was sentenced to home detention and community work after defrauding Work and Income of $91,000.

Jacqueline Ara Kopua, then 41, pleaded guilty in the Masterton District Court to nine charges of using a document to defraud.

Prosecutor Aroha Reihana said the offending had occurred over eight years.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show 62 fraud convictions were handed down last financial year locally - down from 72 in the 12 months prior.

Nearly all last year's fraud convictions (56) were for people obtaining by deception - "the use of deception or impersonation with the intent of dishonestly obtaining property, goods or services, or other benefit".

However, four convictions were handed down for forgery and counterfeiting, and two for deceptive business/government practices.

Nationally, 13,349 convictions were recorded for fraud in the year ending June 30, 2012, an increase on the previous year.

Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Iona Holsted said each year the ministry administered around $16 billion of social assistance.

More than $23 million in benefit fraud was detected last financial year and 714 successful benefit fraud prosecutions were carried out by the ministry.

Ms Holsted said an intelligence unit based in Wellington matched data with six other government agencies to identify and investigate benefit fraud, checking millions of records each year.

Those who stole from taxpayers were taking money from individuals and communities which genuinely needed it, Ms Holsted said.

"Benefit fraud will not be tolerated. Those who take what's not theirs and who meet the threshold for prosecution will be put before the courts."

The Serious Fraud Office uncovered over $2.2 billion of fraud last financial year. The figure encompassed the investigation into South Canterbury Finance, the largest fraud case of its kind. Twenty-one charges were laid against five individuals totalling $1.8 billion. APNZ


Wairarapa fraud convictions


Obtain benefit by deception: 56 (2011/12), 62 (2010/11)

Forgery and counterfeiting: 4 (2011/12), 10 (2010/11)

Deceptive business/government practices: 2 (2011/12), 0 (2010/11)

Other fraud and deception offences: 0 (2011/12), 0 (2010/11)

Total fraud convictions: 62 (2011/12), 72 (2010/11)

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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