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Widow sentenced for $213k ACC fraud

Widow sentenced for $213k ACC fraud after jury’s guilty verdict

A Nelson woman has been sentenced for defrauding ACC of more than $213,000 in accidental death weekly compensation.

After a week-long jury trial, Wendy Maree Whitehead, 57, was convicted of one charge of using a document for pecuniary advantage and seven charges of dishonestly using a document. She was sentenced yesterday in the Nelson District Court to 10 months’ home detention and 160 hours of community service. She repaid the $213,397.87 prior to the sentencing.

In June 1987, Whitehead’s husband died in a farming accident. ACC subsequently provided her with weekly compensation based on her late husband’s income. This was to continue until she turned 65, remarried or entered into a de facto relationship.

To continue receiving weekly compensation, Whitehead was required to complete annual dependency forms, which required information on marital and de facto status.

In 2003, she entered into a de facto relationship, but continued to state that she had not married or remarried and had not entered into a relationship with a person which was in the nature of a marriage.

Whitehead’s weekly compensation payments were stopped in August 2010, after she admitted to ACC investigators that she had been living, holidaying and having an intimate relationship with her new partner.

ACC’s General Manager of Claims Management, Sid Miller, says it is always disappointing when people choose to abuse the ACC Scheme for financial gain.

“ACC collects levies to help people with genuine injury-related needs. Ms Whitehead’s offending therefore amounts to theft from honest, hard-working New Zealanders.”

Mr Miller adds that “ACC has a dedicated Investigation Unit, which follows up all tip-offs received about possible fraud. The unit is committed to ensuring appropriate action is taken when anyone is found to be defrauding ACC.”

ENDS

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