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.
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.”