A 36-year-old man has been sentenced to jail time after being found guilty of three counts of fraud relating to workers’ compensation payments of more than $112,000.
WorkSafe Victoria revealed that Sunshine Magistrates Court had sentenced Andres Canepa Uranga to nine months’ imprisonment.
Mr Uranga had been claiming workers’ compensation payments following an eye injury he received while working as a carpenter in May 2015, the regulator said.
It said the Mr Uranga began working as a painter only 10 days after lodging a claim that he was unable to work.
According to the regulator, he “later used three fake medical certificates to continue to receive benefits after his GP banned him when he became aggressive and kicked in the doctor’s front gate”.
The fraud was only discovered in August last year, when an independent medical expert approached Mr Uranga’s doctor about his prospects of returning to work and was advised that the doctor had not seen Mr Uranga for 18 months.
Incidentally, Mr Uranga was arrested by police only a day later on an unrelated matter, WorkSafe said. It was during his arrest that a collection of capacity to work certificates was found in his possession.
“A subsequent WorkSafe investigation revealed Mr Uranga received more than $87,000 working as a painter from 25 March 2015 to 27 January 2017,” the regulator said.
“It was also discovered that three certificates Uranga submitted in June, July and August 2017 had been illegally altered.”
In addition to the jail sentence, Mr Uranga was ordered to repay the $112,975 in compensation payments he had received, plus costs of a further $1,000.
“Compensation is there to assist, and the vast majority of injured workers do the right thing,” said Paul Fowler, WorkSafe’s enforcement group director.
“It was made clear here, and is always the case, that these payments are not to supplement income while working, and those who try and cheat the system for their own benefit will be held to account.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.