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Community detention for $85k wage subsidy fraud

01 August 2023.

An Auckland woman has been sentenced community detention for receiving almost $85,000 in wage subsidy payments she was not entitled to.

Sarah Leigh Danielle Hale appeared in the Manukau District Court for sentencing on 6 July 2023 having admitted one charge of receiving and one charge of dishonestly using a document in connection with the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

On 9 April 2020, Hale fraudulently claimed that she was self-employed on a wage subsidy application in her own name. Between 8 and 17 May 2020, MSD also received four fraudulent wage subsidy applications made in the name of a registered company that supplied Hale’s bank account details.

In total, Hale received $84,355.20 of wage subsidy payments that she knew she should not have. All the funds were subsequently spent or withdrawn in cash.

When interviewed by an MSD investigator, Hale provided a copy of Facebook messenger conversations with a friend that showed she knew what she was doing was wrong, and that she was not entitled to the funds.

Hale was sentenced to six months’ community detention and 12 months’ supervision.