Woman Avoids Jail Time After Defrauding Mouse Plague Relief Program to Fund Gambling

  • Heidi Barrat got AU$60,000 (US$40,000) through the NSW mouse plague relief program
  • She has to repay the money and perform 300 hours of community service
  • The fraud took place over ten months and she used 120 different bank accounts
a brown mouse
A New South Wales woman fraudulently claimed mouse plague relief funds and used the money to fuel her gambling addiction. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A woman who fraudulently claimed AU$60,000 (US$40,000) in mouse plague relief funds to feed her gambling addictions has avoided jail time. Heidi Barrat pleaded guilty to ten charges of using deception to dishonestly obtain financial advantage and a single charge of using identity information to commit an indictable offense.

she received 120 payments from the relief scheme into 120 separate bank accounts

Barrat took advantage of a program that was helping individuals impacted by a mouse plague in New South Wales (NWS). The fraud took place over a ten-month period during which she received 120 payments from the relief scheme into 120 separate bank accounts. While Police Prosecutor Sergeant Jason Tozer noted this wasn’t a sophisticated scheme, it did require significant effort. This meant that it was a planned criminal activity with the goal of obtaining financial gain.

The NSW mouse plague caused millions of dollars of damage to crops and devastated many communities for over a year.

Barrat received a 24-month intensive corrections order, as well as an order to repay the AU$60,000 (US$40,000) and perform 300 hours of community service. Barat also has to stay away from drugs and alcohol for two years and see a psychologist.

The judge believes the likelihood of Barrat reoffending is low. Magistrate Rebecca Hosking said to the defendant: “Your prospects of rehabilitation are good but only if you do the work in relation to dealing with the addictions you have.”

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