ACT News

Two Canberra women plead guilty to Medicare fraud to fund gambling habits

Two workers at a Canberra medical clinic who created false receipts and claim thousands of dollars in Medicare rebates to fuel their gambling habits have pleaded guilty to fraud.

Belinda Leary, 27, and Vanessa West, 32, were each charged with making false statements to obtain a benefit when they appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Court documents showed West, who worked as the practice manager at Bruce's Calvary Clinic, used the patient record management system to create an account in her own name.

She would create fake receipts for medical services and print them off  before she deleted the record from the system.

West then used the receipts to claim Medicare rebates from the government agency's Belconnen branch on 57 occasions between November 2011 and July 2013.

A total of $68,869 in rebates was deposited into her bank accounts during the two-year period.


Leary was a medical receptionist at the same clinic when she created six false tax invoices in the same way and used them to claim Medicare rebates twice in 2013, court documents said.

She used her Medicare card to claim a $696.90 rebate from two tax invoices for medical services at the agency's Queanbeyan branch in March 2013.

She then used a reissued card to claim $766.65 from four receipts for trips to medical professionals from Medicare at Belconnen two months later.

The money was deposited into Leary's bank account after each claim.

The court was told investigators from the Department of Human Services visited the northside clinic and interviewed the pair in September 2013.

During the interview, both women admitted the information in the receipts was made up and they had never received the medical treatments mentioned.

The women admitted they used the money for gambling and Leary said she regretted what she'd done and wanted to pay the money back.

West also told investigators she knew the claims she was making were false and she wasn't entitled to the money.

Calvary Hospital confirmed both the women had password access to the clinic's patient record system and said there was no record of the false claims, according to court documents.

The Commonwealth indicated it would seek to recover the combined total of more than $70,000 that was fraudulently obtained by the pair. 

Magistrate Robert Cook was satisfied the women's offences were proven and committed each to the ACT Supreme Court to be sentenced.

They are each set to appear before the higher court in March.