I am really afraid about a terrible situation I’ve put myself into with Centrelink. I’m actually hugely terrified about this and it was completely unintentional, although I’m aware that the reasons for my behaviour sound a little bit weak. I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who can help with any of my questions and especially if there is someone who works with or for Centrelink to give me some idea on how this might go down.
Some info about me so as to understand where my circumstances are.
I’m currently pregnant. I am 34 years of age. This is my first baby conceived by donor IVF after many years. I work from home and it has taken me years to get into such a good position where I can work from home. I have major anxiety and depression and a severe eating disorder although that part has subsided with my pregnancy somewhat. The fact that I can work from home and not full time is hugely beneficial to my anxiety and psychiatric issues. I have an excellent reputation with the three companies that I’m employed by and have never had an issue with Centrelink. Everything has been perfect in terms of that.
I am on Disability Support Pension and have been for approximately 5 years and have a squeaky clean record.
This past year I received a job for which I obtain payments that are in USD. I am paid monthly for this job and have also another one for which I’m paid anywhere from 3-4 months apart. I am paid my DSP fortnightly as standard. The reporting dates do not line up well with these two particular jobs.
What I did wrong was, when I got this online job from America I actually forgot to report my income from it. I reported income from my other two jobs as per usual but because I was not quite sure what to do with the American job I overlooked it for several months and when reporting income in the usual way I always ticked that ‘No other income from other sources’ box. I remember thinking in the back of my mind what do I do and was confused about it but by the tme the payment was made to me and I rarely check my bank balance, I had forgotten.
This went on for months. Even I do not know really how I overlooked it so long. But when I realised what I’d done and how much income I haven’t reported to Centrelink, admittedly purely out of forgetting to do it on so many occasions due to my anxiety over other things and long periods of chronic migraines and not being sure how to go back on this without getting into a huge amount of strife. The amount I have under-reported has added up to 8.5k.
Questions I have are:
I want to go into Centrelink and tell them this, dob myself in so to speak because I had never intended to rip off the system that has supported me problem-free so many years when I’ve needed them. Will this mean they are unlikely or far less likely to prosecute if I bring them all the information and all statements/invoices for the unreported income?
Anyone have any idea how much the overpayment may be likely to be considering the 8.5k of unreported income?
Is dobbing myself in rather than waiting to get found out likely to mean no prosecution?
How much is my actual debt likely to be ? Of course I know that the 8.5k is just the total income, but I don’t owe that much to Centrelink. I’ve got no idea how they calculate what your actual debt is.
This has been exactly one year – to me it sounds like a really terrible timeframe to have overlooked a monthly payment.
If I go in there and report myself saying I’ve under-declared over the year and I’m very sorry, here’s the evidence would I perhaps be not prosecuted/investigated? I know all the actual debt has to be repaid, no question, but my biggest fear is getting a criminal offence and/or jail sentence.
My parents are very supportive and willing to help me get a very good lawyer if it comes to my needing one or getting a summons to go to court. But have I any defence whatsoever? I could have easily probably just rang up Centrelink at any time and asked how to report this income correctly. I don’t know how I failed to do this right at the beginning. I just overlooked it completely.
Likely penalty if they decide to prosecute??? For this amount of money and with consideration of a bit of a **** weak excuse and with my circumstances as being pregnant and wanting to be able to continue to provide an income for myself and baby?
How likely is a criminal offence and how likely is jail? Criminal conviction is a huge fear for me considering it will impact on my ability not only to keep my job but to obtain employment for the next 10 years and I have a baby I want to be able to continue to provide for.
I also wanted to know if in an investigation they can give information to your employers about what they are investigating and so you get red flags raised with your employers?
Do they check your actual bank accounts if they have all the information provided from the invoices I give them and the
How likely is it that with good legal representation I may be able to get a fine, good behaviour bond, community service etc?
How much does it count in my favour that I ‘dobbed myself in’ and that there was never any INTENT to commit acts of fraud? My lack of intent and knowledge that I’m a good person is one thing, but all they will see will be what I did and how easily I could have avoided this situation if I didn’t intend to do it.
If I was intending to fraud then I’d never report myself without any prompting. It’s because I’m not a dishonest person that I feel the need to do this. Surely this will be seen?
Plan at this stage is just to walk in there and tell them. I’ve read all about the procedure and possible prosecution interview and investigation, referral to CDPP if they decide to do so, letter about the debt you owe and administration fee (least of my concerns).
I would do anything if I could just escape a conviction and custodial jail sentence, even if I had a fine and community service or good behaviour bond. Is this outcome worth hoping for or am I fooling myself?
Or is it even possible that Centrelink will say, ‘Thank you for providing this information to us, and you will just have to repay the overpaid amount.’ With no further investigation or prosection? Best possible outcome for sure but is this wishful thinking?
Please, please, help. My anxiety has risen 1000% over the past several days.