Shane Cowlishaw at Stuff reports:
Concerns have been raised about the plans to investigate people without their knowledge as the Government introduces measures to prosecute the partners of benefit fraudsters.
Announcing the changes yesterday, Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows said a new offence would be created to allow the partner or spouse of a person wrongly collecting a benefit to be charged.
It would mean partners could face a fine of up to $5000 or 12 months in jail, as well as their share of the repayments.
Last year more than $20 million was lost because of relationship fraud, making up one-third of welfare fraud cases. …
Beneficiary Advocacy Federation spokeswoman Kay Brereton said she was supportive of the move to target partners.
Currently the majority of people being punished for relationship fraud were women, who were often pressured into the crime. While there would be situations where a partner was not aware of the fraud, this would be the minority, she said.
“I’d love to think that this would discourage men, and I know I’m being very sexist but what we see is mostly men, to discourage them from pressuring their partner into doing this.”
I agree that in the majority of cases it is a joint decision to commit benefit fraud, so the ability to prosecute both is a useful change.