Exclusive Centrelink fraud interview with Judy Lorbek on Today Tonight
Government Overpayment Leads to Jail – this unfortunate lady was charged with stealing $2,022,012.00 from the Child Support Program. This money was negligently deposited into her account by the Child Support Agency and when she found it there succumbed to the overwhelming urge to spend it. She was charged and the Sydney Local Court refused her bail.
I received instructions to get her out on bail. The sheer size of the fraud alleged meant that she was unlikely to be granted bail. After a colossal effort, and despite stiff opposition from the Crown, I had her successfully admitted to bail.
This is an interesting and sad case in that my client faces a term of imprisonment for spending the money she was overpaid, but all this trouble could have been prevented if the Child Support Agency had bothered to give her a call when the overpayment was made. To this day, they still have not called her.
Video: Exclusive Centrelink fraud interview with Judy Lorbek on Today Tonight
Judy Lorbek was charged with stealing $2,022,012.00 from the Child Support Program. Watch this exclusive interview with Judy & her lawyer Michael McMillan
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Presenter: Now to the woman who hit the child support jackpot, becoming an instant millionaire with a two-million-dollar payment. She claims she thought it was legitimate back payment from her ex-husband, but it was a massive mistake by the child support agency, and now the single mother has to pay back what she’s already spent, and is facing jail. Neil Doorley has this exclusive report.
Jody Lorbek: It was like, wow, this is fantastic for my children. Took the kids out for dinners, bought some new clothes, we were having a good time I suppose you could say.
Michael McMillan: The money’s dropped into her account, she felt tempted…
Jody Lorbek: I felt like a bit of a criminal, but I didn’t know why.
Neil Doorley: On February 6, single mother of three Jody Lorbek hit the child support jackpot and became an instant millionaire.
Jody Lorbek: On that day, monies were deposited from the Child Support Agency of the sum of two million dollars…
Michael McMillan: What is really astounding here is that it’s almost impossible to suspect that the department wouldn’t have known about the overpayment very very quickly after it was made.
Jody Lorbek: The first things first was to take care of my children…
Neil Doorley: Five weeks and hundreds of thousands of dollars later she’d gone from the penthouse to the jailhouse.
Jody Lorbek: They just said ‘Judy Lorbek, you are under arrest.’ He said ‘you know why’, so I was thinking I need to speak to my lawyer.
Michael McMillan: There’s no premeditation, there’s no attempt by her to secure the money before it was given to her, nothing like that at all. That’s very different to a lot of other frauds you might see.
Neil Doorley: Michael McMillan is Judy Lorbek’s lawyer.
Michael McMillan: This is a woman who didn’t ask for this problem to occur – it happened and she took advantage of it when she shouldn’t have.
Neil Doorley: While most of us would question the circumstances surrounding two million dollars being deposited into our bank accounts, Judy Lorbek assumes she was given the money following an investigation into the finances of her former husband, a well-known Melbourne businessman.
Jody Lorbek: I felt that my ex-husband could pay those monies, so I sort of didn’t think twice.
Neil Doorley: Judy’s spending spree ended abruptly when Federal Police arrested her outside this Sydney RSL.
Jody Lorbek: That was just very surreal, a shock, just out of the blue. These men just come out of the woodwork…
Neil Doorley: The 46-year-old was taken into custody and transferred to Brisbane’s women’s prison.
Jody Lorbek: I cried for days. The only thing I requested was a bible, I’m a Christian, so that was my source of peace in that place.
Neil Doorley: She spent six weeks behind bars.
Jody Lorbek: I’ve never been cut off from my children for such a long period of time and I was concerned more for them than myself really.
Neil Doorley: While the amount overpaid to Judy Lorbek is rare, it’s not the only mistake made by the Child Support Agency, which handles more than three billion dollars in payments. Last year the agency received nearly 7,500 complaints, but Judy admits she never contacted them about her payout.
Jody Lorbek: I didn’t know who to contact, I wouldn’t know what to do, but I felt sort of justified that this is Child Support, they know what they’re doing.
Neil Doorley: Judy Lorbek’s cash splash might have ended nearly three months ago, but during a recent bail application the court heard investigators are still trying to recover about $100,000. Judy’s assets have been frozen, and it’s possible her Sunshine Coast house could be sold off to pay back the Child Support Agency. [To Judy] To lose your home, that would obviously come as a massive blow?
Jody Lorbek: We’d be devastated, yeah, absolutely devastated.
Neil Doorley: As she waits her next court appearance, Judy is genuinely apologetic.
Jody Lorbek: If that money was deposited wrongfully by their department, and I’ve spent it, yes of course I would like to apologise, of my own Christian morals and the way I believe.
Michael McMillan: She has been charged with dishonesty offences, they’re Commonwealth dishonesty offences, and she’s intending to plead guilty to these charges as we know them.
Jody Lorbek: But I take one day at a time…
Michael McMillan: A simple telephone call to her, ‘we’ve overpaid you, don’t spend the money, you could be committing a criminal offence if you do so,’ might have prevented all of this. Still today, they haven’t called her.
Neil Doorley: I don’t understand why I went through it, but all I can do is pray.
Presenter: Judy Lorbek faces the Commonwealth Court in Brisbane on June 15 on that stealing charge, she could be facing even more jail time. That was Neil Doorley reporting.