At optician's office.
At optician's office.

Optometrist reprimanded over fraud

AN OPTOMETRIST who has been suspended for more than three years, after being convicted of dozens of credit card frauds, has been publicly reprimanded.

But Chi-Yu Ku, known as Tiffany Ku, could return to working in the profession, as a result of a recent tribunal decision.

Ku was working for a major retail chain's optometry section when she used patients' credit card details to make online purchases and then returned the bought items to get refunds.

She pleaded guilty in Brisbane Magistrates Court to 99 dishonesty offences, including 82 fraud charges, and was sentenced to 18 months' jail, with immediate parole release, on May 26, 2016.

Ku's registration has been suspended by the Optometry Board of Australia since July, 2016.

The Health Ombudsman brought disciplinary proceedings against Ku in Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Ku, then 24, was in her first year of employment as an optometrist when she committed the offences, the tribunal heard.

Most of the dishonestly obtained items were returned to vendors by Ku, with refunds going to her bank card.

Ku initially denied involvement in the online credit card fraud, but later made full admissions and was charged.

A clinical psychologist reported that Ku had been suffering from an adjustment disorder and chronic stress and anxiety at the time of the offences.

Ku, who had low self-esteem, had been trying to please her parents, amid a family culture characterised by high academic and vocational success and parental obedience.

The psychologist said Ku felt great shame and immense guilt about her criminal behaviour.

Tribunal Deputy President Judge John Allen accepted that Ku had demonstrated insight and remorse.

The Health Ombudsman's legal representative told the tribunal if it did not impose any further preclusion from practice, the Optometry Board would revoke Ku's suspension.

Judge Allen, who on December 16 ordered Ku be publicly reprimanded for professional misconduct, said the tribunal did not want her to be barred from practising any longer.

He also ordered that Ku must complete an education program on ethics, approved by the national board.

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