CAUGHT OUT: Akendik Tong Lual outside Ipswich Courthouse.
CAUGHT OUT: Akendik Tong Lual outside Ipswich Courthouse.

Nurse charged for disaster relief fraud

AN IPSWICH nurse was told she "stole from the pockets of people in her community" when she faced court for disaster relief fraud.

Mum of three Akendik Tong Lual dishonestly claimed $1980 in natural disaster funding after she made a series of fraudulent applications.

The 25-year-old had been entitled to claim a one-off emergency assistance grant, which was available to victims of a flooding event in 2013.

Those eligible could claim up to $900 per household.

After she successfully made an application at the Ipswich Recovery Centre on February 4, 2013, Lual visited other centres to try and receive more money.

During a three-day period, she dishonestly made additional claims at centres in Logan and Moorooka.

At Ipswich Magistrates Court last week, she pleaded guilty to fraud.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said Lual had been aware the grant money was a one-off payment.

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When she made each additional claim, Lual declared she had not previously applied for the grant.

Following investigations, police visited Lual's Redbank home in March 11 this year, to charge her with fraud.

She told police she had made applications at other flood recovery centres as her friends had done the same and had kept getting grant money.

Defence lawyer Erin Dwan said Lual was a single mother and the sole provider for her household.

Ms Dwan said her client worked part-time as an assistant nurse but was not employed during the time of offending.

She said Lual had no criminal history.

Magistrate Barry Cosgrove said Lual had stolen from the government, which meant she had stolen from the pockets of people in her community.

"People like you who cheat and steal in disaster situations make it harder for others who are entitled to get grants like these," he told her.

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"For this offence, you deliberately applied for something you knew you weren't entitled to on three separate occasions."

Lual was convicted and sentenced to 120 hours of community service to be completed within a year.

She was also ordered to pay back the $1980 which she had falsely claimed to the Queensland Department of Communities.



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