This page considers identity offences regarding 'welfare'
or 'income support' schemes.
It covers -
Anxieties about the provision of services by the state
to disadvantaged people (or subversion of those services
through a range of identity offences) has on occasion
taken on the dimensions of a moral
It reflects recognition that public sector resources are
finite. It also reflects perceptions, often with an anecdotal
rather than rigorously empirical basis, that resources
are being misallocated to recipients who are wholly undeserving
or who are relatively undeserving compared to people in
Much academic and popular literature - and initiatives
such as the Australia
Card programs founded on ubiquitous information, large-scale
data-matching and biometric
registration - accordingly centres on what are sometimes
characterised as welfare scams.
Those offences include -
support recipients engaging in positive or negative
identity enhancement by misrepresenting their circumstances,
eg claiming that they are unemployed when in fact they
are earning money
using wholly fictitious identities to gain income support
- using the identities of other real people, living
extent of those offences is problematical, with recurrent
reports by independent analysts and government agencies
suggesting that welfare fraud is not pervasive and asking
whether some bureaucratic responses - apart from eroding
national claims about egalitarianism and respect for individuals
- simply cost more than the mooted frauds.
Income support offences are diverse, unsurprising given
opportunities to subvert public/private welfare programs
and the wide range of benefits under those programs.
That diversity can be illustrated through some of the
more colourful incidents.
In 2008 for example Florida resident Judith Leekin was
prosecuted for fraud involving adoption of 11 disabled
children under four aliases, which allowed her to collect
US$1.68 million in benefits over several years. Leekin
is claimed to have spent most of the money on herself,
rather than on the children. Her fake identities were
central to the adoptions and remuneration.
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