In the high-tech battle against welfare cheats Centrelink uses an army of private investigators and what it calls the most sophisticated tracking systems in the world.
But sometimes the cheats do the work for them, and even provide the paperwork, page after page, and chapter after chapter.
Prosecuted by her own pen author Joyce Ellen Leary’s revealing book, called Breaking the Mould, has been used as ammunition against her by Centrelink.More stories from Today Tonight
For sixteen years Leary claimed the single person’s disability pension, and raked in around $216,000.
However the book about her life story also broke her cover, with a chapter entitled My Life, My Loves and My Temper providing a detailed account of Leary's long-standing relationship with her husban from the time they married in 1969.
Today in Hobart’s Supreme Court she was sentenced to eighteen in months in jail.
“Women are the ones more likely to confess to an affair, more likely to confess to some sort of wrongdoing,” 4BC radio presenter Gary Hardgrave said.The confession was “off her chest, onto a book, but into the hands of the prosecutors.”
Hargrave gets plenty of callers complaining about welfare cheats.
Centrelink's Hank Jongen says “there's an old adage here - if you're going to tell a set of lies, be consistent in ensuring that you follow through those lies in every aspect of your life, and that’s when people can unravel.”
The latest cases to be inducted into the welfare cheats hall of fame include that of Wilma Szabo who ran a six year con netting her almost $50,000.
The Adelaide woman was claiming the pension while working full-time at a department store. The 78-year-old was jailed for eight months and two weeks.
Joanne Parker from Mount Isa was dobbed in by a fellow Aussie. The 52-year-old took $138,000 from Centrelink in single parenting payments when she was actually in a relationship.
She was jailed for three years and ordered to repay the money.
Then there's Robert Hauke who defrauded Centrelink of nearly $80,000 and was sentenced to eighteen months jail.
The 47-year-old had gone to cemeteries and obtained the names of dead children, using their identities to claim welfare payments.
Last year 1200 fraudsters were caught out and Centrelink managed to claw back a massive $50 million. That's bad news for people trying to rip of the system.
So why do they do it?
According to psychologist Maria Mercuri “the simple answer is because they can.”
Mercuri says some people are predisposed to this sort of unethical and illegal behavior.
“There have been studies that have shown that these sorts of people are high in variables called narcissism, risk taking, or could be sociopaths.”
It's hard to say if any Aussies have gone to the lengths of an American man who impersonated his dead mother. Thomas Parkin donned lipstick, manicured nails and an oxygen tank and over six years cashed in her social security cheques, worth around $45,000.
Jongen warns that it doesn't matter how good a liar you are, because you'll always be caught out.
“If you want to avoid a debt, or the likelihood of being prosecuted, there’s a simple rule - just be honest in your dealings with us,” he concluded.This reporter is on Twitter at @tinekae