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May 18, 2021

Woman accused of Centrelink fraud

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A former Human Services employee accused of defrauding Centrelink by claiming she was blind will face a trial in the District Court.

Rebecca Teece was arraigned in Lismore District Court yesterday where she pleaded not guilty to four counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception.

The 36 year-old was a Centrelink staff member between 2012 and 2015 at offices in the Coffs Harbour area, and at Pottsville, when it is alleged she made four fraudulent claims for benefits.

In late 2012, while working in the Coffs Harbour area, Ms Teece allegedly applied for a disability support pension in the name of Rebecca O’Grady.

In support of her application, court documents revealed, was an alleged false ophthalmologist report from a doctor D Gregor.

The application was approved and Ms Teece, aka O’Grady, allegedly received disability support payments from December 17, 2012 until May 1, 2015.

Then while working at the Pottsville Centrelink office in 2014, Ms Teece allegedly applied for a disability support pension in the name of Rachel Lewis.

‘On about November 21, 2014, the defendant, an employee of the Department of Human Services, made and shortly after approved a claim for a disability support pension (blindness) in the fictitious name of Rachel Lewis,’ Commonwealth charges against Ms Teece read.

‘As a result of this conduct, the defendant obtained a disability support payments (blindness) to which she was not entitled, between November 28, 2014, and May 1, 2015.’

For four days from March 5, 2015, it is alleged Ms Teece applied for and approved two carers payments in the fictitious name of Margareet Lewis.

On Thursday, Ms Teece went to extreme lengths to avoid reporters, changing her outfit from a black and brown suit to a purple dress, and donning a blonde wig, when she left Lismore Court.

When District Court Judge Laura Wells heard Ms Teece’s trial was estimated to take three weeks, she relocated the matter to Sydney.

Judge Wells adjourned Ms Teece’s matters to the Downing Centre District Court on December 8, when a trial date is expected to be set.

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