A crowd controller who received almost $190,000 in compensation benefits for a workplace injury while continuing to work was this week convicted of fraud in Heidelberg Magistrates’ court.
Cedar Ferry was sentenced to six months imprisonment, wholly suspended for an operational period of two years over the fraud, which took place over a six-year period.
Mr Ferry was working at a nightclub in Brunswick in 2008 when he was injured. Despite receiving compensation payments, Mr Ferry resumed work as a crowd controller in June 2010 and worked shifts for four different employers until July 2015.
The court was told Mr Ferry was paid a total of $188,680.80 in weekly compensation payments from 2008 until 2014, for which he had no entitlement.
A WorkSafe investigation found Mr Ferry attended a number of medical examinations where he supplied false information about his injury and failed to tell doctors that he had returned to work.
WorkSafe had indicated to the court that, given the large sum of money obtained and the duration of the offending, a prison sentence for Mr Ferry was warranted. However, the court was told that Mr Ferry had repaid the total amount to WorkSafe last week.
WorkSafe’s Acting General Counsel Susannah Palmer said it was disappointing that Mr Ferry had attempted to defraud a scheme that was designed to help him. “The Victorian workers’ compensation scheme is set up to help injured workers get the support and treatment they need to get better and to get back to work when it is safe to do so,” Ms Palmer said.
“Many people who worked on Mr Ferry’s case, including his own doctor and other medical professionals concerned about his injuries, have had their time wasted and would have every right to feel terribly let down by his actions.”
Ms Palmer said people who tried to defraud the scheme by failing to tell the truth were cheating every injured Victorian worker who needed care and support.
She said WorkSafe has successfully prosecuted 16 workers for fraud in the past 12 months. They included:
- A man who suffered a back injury working as a meatpacker claimed he was unable to work and received almost $40,000 in compensation payments while working as a taxi driver.
- A man who suffered a stress injury claimed he was unable to work and received almost $54,000 in compensation payments while working for three employers in the telecommunications industry.
- A woman who suffered a shoulder injury working as a hairdresser claimed more than $57,000 in childcare expenses which turned out to be false.
- A man who suffered a neck injury working as a carpenter claimed he was unable to work and received more than $55,000 in compensation payments while working as a car cleaner.
"The vast majority of injured workers want to do the right thing but there will always be a small minority who are tempted to defraud the system. We will find them and hold them to account," Ms Palmer said.
Public enquiries: Call the WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, email email@example.com or write to Advisory Service, PO Box 4306, Melbourne, 3001.