News : Centrelink Call Centre Worker Avoids Jail Time
June 10, 2014 -- A Centrelink call centre worker who stole $66,500 by redirecting one-off payments for clients into her own bank accounts has avoided being sent to jail.
Sharon Lee Vanzon, 48, changed clients' account numbers on the agency's mainframe so that allowances such as family tax benefits and disaster recovery payments would be siphoned into her accounts, between December 2008 and July 2011.
The money she stole represented 28 payments that were being returned to Centrelink in instances when clients' accounts had been changed or closed, or when the payments were no longer applicable.
In April and May of 2011 she also tried to steal two payments worth $14,700 but was unsuccessful.
Vanzon, of Melton West, was sentenced to a three-year community corrections order and ordered to perform 250 hours of unpaid community work.
County Court Judge Duncan Allen also ruled Vanzon undergo mental-health assessment and treatment and that she undergo financial counselling.
During Vanzon's plea hearing, in February, Judge Allen said he was mindful that imposing a prison term would have a major impact on the woman's daughter, who had two young children, mental health problems and a limited support network.
Vanzon pleaded guilty to one count of obtaining financial advantage by deception and one charge of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Centrelink is a government agency delivering a range of Commonwealth services to the Australian community. Centrelink is a statutory authority responsible, through its Board, to the Minister for Family and Community Services. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has responsibility for Centrelink’’s day-to-day operations. Centrelink operates under the Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency Act 1997 which formally came into effect on 1 July 1997.
Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014