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We have prosecuted a number of First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) applicants for making false declarations in a FHOG application or in connection with a FHOG application.

Since 2010, 83 FHOG applicants have been successfully prosecuted under the First Home Owner Grant Act 2000 (the FHOG Act). There have also been other prosecutions conducted under the Taxation Administration Act 1997 (the TAA).

The following are some examples of those prosecuted.

1. Identity fraud

1.1

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant. He had multiple identities in other states, seven previous properties and had obtained three prior FHOGs. He had numerous previous convictions for deception, dishonesty, theft and other offences. He repaid the grant of $7000 prior to his court appearance, pleaded guilty and was convicted in the Magistrates Court. He was fined $5000 and ordered to pay costs of $3110.55. He was also ordered to repay the SRO $7520.26 in unpaid penalty and interest.

1.2

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for giving false information in writing and falsifying his identity to obtain a grant. The man had several prior criminal convictions of a dishonest nature. Prior to the court hearing he had repaid $8000 of the $14,000 owing. The man pleaded guilty at his court hearing and was sentenced with conviction to an aggregate fine of $2000 and $68.10 costs.

1.3

A lawyer created various fictitious identities and transfers of land to facilitate a concession in land transfer duty for a property he had purchased. He pleaded guilty under the TAA to four charges, the most serious being tax evasion. On this charge, the now ex-lawyer was convicted and sentenced to a period of four months imprisonment wholly suspended for 12 months. On the other charges he was sentenced with conviction to an aggregate fine of $5000, and costs of $2048.10 were also ordered to be paid to the SRO. The Magistrate indicated that but not for the plea of guilty, an immediate custodial term would have been imposed.

2. Did not meet residential obligations of FHOG

2.1

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant as well not residing in a property for which a FHOG had been obtained. He had 15 previous convictions for dishonesty and assault. He repaid the grant of $10,000 prior to his court appearance, pleaded guilty to two charges and was convicted in the Magistrates Court. He was fined $1000 and ordered to pay costs of $1211.10.

2.2

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant, boost and bonus of $17,000 as well as making a false report to a tax officer. The man had never resided in the property and instead used it to grow a hydroponic marijuana crop. He also obtained a principal place of residence (PPR) duty concession to which he was not entitled. He pleaded guilty to three charges in the County Court and was convicted and fined $550. He was ordered to repay the SRO the grant and any concessions totalling $25,000 within 60 days.

2.3

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for failing to notify the Commissioner that he did not meet the residence requirement and failed to repay the grant. The man had leased his property and never resided in it. He repaid the grant of $10,000 prior to his court appearance, pleaded guilty to one charge and no conviction was recorded. The Magistrate fined him $1000 and ordered $700 in costs be paid to the SRO.

2.4

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant of $7000 as well as making a false report to a tax officer. The man had never resided in the property and instead used it to grow a hydroponic marijuana crop. He also obtained a principal place of residence (PPR) duty concession to which he was not entitled. He pleaded guilty to three charges and was convicted and sentenced to an aggregate term of imprisonment of 54 days and to pay the SRO costs.

3. Failure to disclose prior interest in property and receipt of a FHOG

3.1

A woman was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant and bonus of $12,000. She falsely declared that her spouse had not received an earlier FHOG and also falsely declared that she had not resided in a property in which she and/or her spouse had a relevant interest. She had 12 other aliases but no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to two charges in the Magistrates Court. She was convicted and received a 12-month good behaviour bond on the condition that she repay $12,000 to the SRO within 30 days as well as $674.51 in costs and disbursements.

4. Individuals failing to disclose partner/spouse

4.1

A woman was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant. This woman had obtained a FHOG and bonus of $12,000 by falsely declaring that she did not have a spouse and that she and her spouse had not resided in a property for six months in which she or her spouse had obtained an interest. The woman was convicted and fined $1000 and ordered to pay costs and disbursements to the SRO.

4.2

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant, bonus, boost and regional bonus totalling $29,000. He did not declare on a FHOG application that he had a spouse or that his spouse at the time of the application had a prior interest in three properties. He had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to three charges in the Magistrates Court. He was convicted and received a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $41,000 compensation together with costs and disbursements to the SRO.

4.3

A man was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant, and also not meeting the residential requirements. This man had obtained a FHOG in the amount of $26,000. The man failed to disclose his partner, who had previously received a grant, and the man also did not live in his property. He had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to the charges. He was sentenced without conviction to a 12-month community correction order requiring the completion of 200 hours of unpaid community work and a $5000 donation to the Royal Children’s Hospital. The man was also ordered to pay the SRO’s costs.

4.4

A woman was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in obtaining a grant. This woman had obtained a FHOG in the amount of $12,000 by falsely declaring that she did not have a spouse. She had no prior convictions and pleaded guilty, and was sentenced without conviction to a 12-month community correction order requiring the completion of 100 hours of unpaid community work. The woman was also required to pay the SRO’s costs.

5.     Detection of false and misleading information prior to approval

5.1

A woman declared in a FHOG application that she had no prior interest in property and also presented a forged gas account to the SRO to support her application. Fraud was detected prior to the grant being paid. She had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to two charges in the Magistrates Court. The woman was not convicted but received a 12-month good behaviour bond and was ordered to contribute $1000 to the court fund. She was also ordered to pay costs and disbursements to the SRO. 

5.2

A couple was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information to obtain a grant. The application was detected before a grant was paid. One partner had previously owned property and obtained a FHOG. The spouse had obtained a FHOG but had not disclosed her partner’s previous interest in property or previous grant. Despite this, the spouse signed the FHOG declaration supporting her partner’s false answers. They pleaded guilty to one charge each and while no conviction was recorded, the partner received a good behaviour bond for 12 months, was ordered to pay $500 to the Victorian Flood Appeal and pay costs and a disbursement to the SRO. His spouse received no conviction, but a good behaviour bond for 12 months and ordered to pay costs to the SRO.

5.3

A couple was charged under the FHOG Act for providing false and misleading information in attempting to obtain a grant. The application was detected before a grant was paid. The couple both declared in a FHOG application that they did not have a prior relevant interest in property. Each person signed the FHOG declaration supporting the other’s false answers. They had no previous convictions and pleaded guilty to one charge each in the Magistrates Court. They were not convicted but each was fined $2500 and ordered to pay costs and disbursements to the SRO of $127.50. The Magistrate commented on how unimpressed he was that two well-educated people had appeared on such charges given that one had previously owned two properties.