Workers' comp fraud prosecution leads to nine month jail term

24 October 2011

Working as a truck driver for two years while receiving $40,000 in workers compensation benefits has led to a man getting a nine-month prison sentence.

Robert Hocking, 57 and formerly of Epping, pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining payments under the Accident Compensation Act 1985.

Employed as a car rental depot manager when he injured his knee in May 2006, he returned to work a short time after being hurt, but ceased work again in July 2006.

In May last year WorkSafe received an anonymous tip-off that Mr Hocking had been working as a truck driver in Bendigo for two years earning $640 gross each week.

Heidelberg Magistrate Susan Wakeling was told he submitted certificates of incapacity and received direct payments. His doctor was unaware he had returned to work believing he was re-training in security and office work arranged by his claims agent.

On each certificate Hocking signed a declaration saying he had not engaged in any form of employment.

Magistrate Wakeling said his offending involved significant dishonesty which undermined the integrity of the workers compensation scheme, especially as it relied on people self-reporting on the level of their injury or illness.

The Executive Director of WorkSafe’s Injury Support and Service Division, Len Boehm said WorkSafe took fraud seriously.

“Apart from someone getting something that they are not legally entitled to, it undermines those with legitimate injuries by perpetuating the idea in the minds of many that those on benefits are bludging.

“In most cases they are not and actually return to work quickly, but while it is possible to keep receiving some benefits and work, claimants must advise their claims agent so any adjustments can be made.”