The double standard

January 13th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Benefit fraudster Eileen Farquer is embarrassed that, at 83, she’s become a hero to all the wrong kinds of people.

“You’d be amazed at the people who show up here,” Farquer says, standing in the living area of her tiny rented bach in the Bay of Plenty seaside settlement of Little Waihi, where she is imprisoned on home detention.

“To some people, I’m a hero – ‘you ripped off the Government, wow’. This is what’s so bad, everybody feels it’s OK to rip off the Government. If I’d ripped off a little old lady, I’d be stoned to death. But the Government? ‘They’ve got plenty of money.’ “

While I condemn Farquer’s offending, it is good to see that she fully recognises it was wrong, and is pointing out the abhorrent attitude some people have that it is okay to steal from the Government.

Using the name Lee J Strauss, she gained an unemployment benefit in 1987, and continued to receive benefits in that name until June last year. She collected $215,000, which she is paying back at $10.50 a week.

Under the welfare reforms, I would hope this could now never happen – someone spending 25 years on an unemployment benefit.

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24 Responses to “The double standard”

  1. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    “She collected $215,000, which she is paying back at $10.50 a week.”

    I just had to do the math with this one! She will be paying back $546 a year so it will take her 393.8 years to pay it back!

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  2. thor42 (764 comments) says:

    Given that she is a convicted fraudster, I hope that the government has a claim against her estate when she dies. It should be sold with the funds going back to the government.

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  3. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    Something tells me thor42 that she doesn’t have an estate!

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  4. Halconero (6 comments) says:

    Never ceases to amaze me how many people think that the government has got plenty of money when in fact it doesn’t have any at all, just the power to take from one and give it to another.

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  5. Manolo (12,617 comments) says:

    Another fraudster and bludger, the last thing NZ needs.

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  6. gravedodger (1,426 comments) says:

    I wonder where her votes went to over the years, and how many did she cast?

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  7. Anthony (736 comments) says:

    Makes you wonder if MSD have even the most rudimentary reasonableness checks in place to detect benefit fraud??

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  8. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    there be thousands more like her out there ripping off the system…they dont give a fuck..when caught they plead poverty/fuckwittery and pay back only 10 bucks a week.

    No punishment. What sort of message does it send.

    Its our own stupid fault.

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  9. Mike Readman (353 comments) says:

    What the government should be compared to is a total asshole, because that’s what it is. If you ripped off a total asshole, wouldn’t people probably praise you?

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  10. smttc (638 comments) says:

    What kind of punishment is home detention for a convicted frauder like this old woman? Given her daily routine, it is more like a reward. She should have been sent to prison as an example that ripping off the taxpayers of NZ carries serious consequences if caught. This judge has sent all the wrong signals to the community.

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  11. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    What the government should be compared to is a total asshole, because that’s what it is. If you ripped off a total asshole, wouldn’t people probably praise you?

    We are all the government. In your example you are especially so.

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  12. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Imprisoning her would cost more..What is it now? 90,000 a year..Also given her age , she may well have needed additional services. Mind you , she would have greatly extended her ”girls” network and we all know how important that is.
    Some sort of community service could possibly have been added to the 10 dollars a week.

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  13. duggledog (1,102 comments) says:

    I think it was Richard Prebble who stated the amount spent on welfare between 1975 – 1995 was equal to the entire value of the South Island times two.

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  14. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    So she never had to turn up in person? Everyone on a benefit should have to visit a WINZ office at least once a year, during working hours.

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  15. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    The problem with that idea PaulL is that why you are there you might as well pick up some extra money for food, school fees, rent etc etc. Best they stay away!

    smttc, do we really want an 83 year old costing the taxpayer more as a prisoner?

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  16. ChrisB (5 comments) says:

    The silly old bat, well perhaps not so silly, but she hasn’t ripped off the Government, she has ripped off every law abiding tax payer in New Zealand, and people say “its only the Government so don’t worry.”
    that’s partly whats wrong in NZ.

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  17. Keeping Stock (9,788 comments) says:

    She doesn’t “fully recognise” that what she ded was wrong DPF; she makes every excuse under the sun for her offending. Has she ever been a Winston First candidate?

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  18. landoftime (35 comments) says:

    Any sort of fraud – tax, insurance, benefit fraud is disgusting. However, that is separate issue from your last comment:

    “Under the welfare reforms, I would hope this could now never happen – someone spending 25 years on an unemployment benefit”

    25 years on a benefit has nothing to do with ‘welfare reform’ and we will always have people on the benefit for 25 years and more. My aunt has been on the benefit all her life. She is now 63. She had a few odd jobs when she left school but never lasted. She either got fired or left before she got fired. She would get into fights. She was late or simply didn’t turn up. She couldn’t follow instructions. She couldn’t work with others. She is, in effect, unemployable.
    To hold down a job you need minimum basic skills – mainly ones derived from discipline. You need to be able to consistently get to a job on time, you need to be able to turn up every day, you need basic communication skills and anger management skills – that you’re not going to throw a punch when someone pisses you off (and there is always someone we feel like punching at work – just most of us know how to control ourselves). Most long term unemployed people lack these basic skills. By the time you get to welfare reform, it’s simply too late – cutting benefits does not give a person the discipline and communication skills they need to hold down a job. We are talking about people who don’t have jobs because they are unemployable. Things need to be done at the early childhood / primary school level – beyond that is too late.

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  19. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Given the self justification about being offered the benefit I am not convinced there’s significant insight or remorse.

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  20. big bruv (12,323 comments) says:

    Lock the thief up. I simply don’t care what the cost is we must send a message to thousands of other benefit bludgers out there.

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  21. smttc (638 comments) says:

    Big Bruv – hear hear.

    bc, I don’t give a stuff how old she is and as a taxpayer i am quite happy to pay to send the right signals to the rest of the community that fraud against the vtaxpayer will be severely punished. Home detention for the elderly. pffft.

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  22. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    smttc – if sending people to prison sent “the right signals to the community” then there would be no more of the crimes that generate prison sentences.
    Now I’m not anti-prison. We need prison for people that pose a risk to society, eg violent offenders. But you are fooling yourself if you think that prison provides a deterent to others.

    In this instance the “victim” was the taxpayer. It is ridiculous putting her in a situation where she costs the taxpayer even more!

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  23. SPC (4,616 comments) says:

    I am simply wondering, why it was the incident and the varying identity cards that led to the fraud being exposed?

    Has anyone asked the Minister to explain?

    1. How can a person over 65 be on the UB? Are there others?
    2. What happened to the annual review process?

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  24. smttc (638 comments) says:

    bc, we are talking about differnt things. The sanction of prison serves several aims. You are talking about deterrence and protection of the public. I am talking about exemplication and sending the right moral and legal signals to the community and I am quite prepared to pay the cost of meeting that aim in the case of welfare cheats, even some old feral scumbag like Farquer.

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