A man who used a doctored driver licence and 24 different identities to defraud the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy and Leave Support schemes has been jailed for more than two years following a prosecution by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).
Casey John Burtt Smith, 29, was sentenced in the Manukau District Court after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of using forged documents and three charges of dishonestly taking or using documents.
The MSD prosecution is part of a substantial ongoing work programme aimed at making sure those who received wage subsidy payments were entitled to them. This work has seen 39 people brought before the courts to date for wage subsidy misuse, the Ministry said in a statement.
The court heard that Mr Smith, of Long Bay in Auckland, made a total of 43 applications for wage subsidy and leave support scheme payments between April 2020 and April 2022. Five of these, worth a total of $26,946.80, were successful.
Three of the applications were in his own name and two used other people’s identities. The latter payments were made to bank accounts that Smith set up using a driver licence that had been stolen along with a wallet in early 2020. Smith doctored the driver licence to include his own photo, the Ministry said.
Smith also used his own and other identities when making the other 38 unsuccessful applications for wage subsidy or leave support payments. These would have been worth $207,515.20 if approved.
Judge Mina Wharepouri said at Smith’s sentencing that the premeditation, planning, high breach of trust, and the sum of funds obtained and applied for were all aggravating factors in his offending.
He sentenced Smith to 27 months and 2 weeks’ imprisonment, and ordered him to pay $2000 reparation to be distributed to his victims for the emotional harm caused.