How greedy granny scammed Centrelink
A woman in her 60s who ran a sophisticated fraud syndicate and cheated Centrelink out of $137,000 has failed in a bid to reduce her five-year prison sentence.
Rebecca Assie and her late husband Jamal Elali lodged fake carer payment claims with Centrelink and enlisted dodgy doctors to lie on medical reports between February 2013 and September 2015.
Their four "customers" defrauded a total of $137,000 from the welfare agency.
Assie had five phones running hot as she juggled calls from her husband, Centrelink and her customers, who would hand over cash payments in public toilets.
She would coach the customers on how to deal with Centrelink and encourage them to falsely claim they were carers for each others, stepping in to mediate if fights broke out about how to split the cash.
The couple was so bold they continued to run the scam for almost two years after authorities seized $244,950 from their home during a search warrant in late 2013, despite neither having reported any income since July 2008.
Assie took over the scam for three months after her husband died in June 2015.
She was last year sentenced to five years in prison with a non-parole period of three years and three months after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the Commonwealth and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The sentencing judge found she was just as culpable as her husband, even if he was more dominant in setting up the conspiracy, and that she was motivated by greed.
Assie tried to appeal the sentence, arguing the sentence was excessive give she had only personally made $11,000 from the venture and that she had been denied procedural fairness.
But the bid was knocked back by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Friday who found the sentencing judge had properly taken into account Assie's circumstances.
These included her remorse, health problems, status as a carer for three adult children with learning disabilities, and the fact she was 18 when she entered into an arranged marriage with her "demanding and controlling" husband who was, according to Assie's son, violent towards her.
As well, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton wrote, "there is nothing in this case that is even faintly suggestive that the applicant suffered any injustice in the sentencing process".
Assie will be eligible for parole on December 5 2022.