Childcare operator jailed after exposing his own $430,000 fraud
A Roxburgh Park man who faked a serious mental injury to scam the WorkCover scheme while secretly operating a childcare centre and overseeing multiple developments has been sentenced to 22 months jail.
Published:30 August 2023
Samer Ahmed, 54, was convicted in the County Court today after being found guilty by a jury of seven charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception.
Ahmed was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of eight months and ordered to repay $350,000 of the $431,228 defrauded from the scheme.
The court heard Ahmed began receiving weekly compensation payments for a stress-related injury while working as a school principal in May 2006.
That same month, Ahmed and his twin brother bought a property at Glenroy to build a childcare centre, which began operating about May 2009.
In June 2009, Ahmed's GP provided a report to WorkCover agent CGU stating Ahmed had depression and anxiety, would need lifelong psychiatric and psychological support and was totally unfit for any work.
Ahmed made a claim for permanent impairment benefits, which was referred to the independent medical panel. Ahmed told the panel he had no motivation, spent most of his day at home and had no social contacts outside his family.
The panel concluded Ahmed suffered from major depression related to his workplace injury and had a 20 per cent whole person psychiatric impairment.
Throughout 2010, Ahmed continued to report to medical experts that he was not working and stayed in bed most of the day. During this time, Ahmed was sent a significant number of invoices from office and equipment suppliers relating to the childcare centre and reported to WorkCover agent Gallagher Bassett the wages of the centre's 15 full-time staff.
Between 2011 and 2014, Ahmed and his brother continued to operate the Glenroy childcare centre while seeking to develop a further three properties into residences and a childcare centre and also launching an employment and training solutions business.
At independent medical examinations during this period, Ahmed reported that he had not worked since March 2006, that he spent most of his time at home and that he saw himself as totally disabled and unable to work.
In August 2014, the Glenroy childcare centre was sold for $1.5 million. Data later seized from Ahmed's hard drive reveal the centre made a total net profit of $684,441 between 2009 and 2013.
During 2015, planning and development continued on the new properties, while Ahmed also travelled interstate and overseas for halal certification and training purposes.
In that same period, an independent medical examination reported that Ahmed isolated himself in his room, presented with a major depressive disorder and did not have a current work capacity.
The fraud was eventually uncovered in November 2015 when Ahmed accidently sent a registration for WorkCover insurance form for the new childcare centre to his agent CGU, instead of his scheduled certificate of capacity.
An investigation was launched when, after being advised of the error, Ahmed provided CGU with his scheduled certificate of capacity that certified him unfit for any work and included a signed declaration that he had not worked.
WorkSafe Executive Director Insurance Roger Arnold said the fraud was the most egregious he had seen in his time with the scheme.
"The level of deception and the length of time this man was willing to keep up the act and blatantly lie to multiple medical experts about a significant mental injury is staggering and just totally repugnant," Mr Arnold said.
"Our scheme exists to give workers who have suffered a mental or physical injury the support and treatment they need and those who seek to defraud it will be held to account."