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Australian government harnesses social media to clamp down on benefit fraud

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By John Glenday, Reporter

February 3, 2016 | 1 min read

The Australian government has come under fire for outsourcing state surveillance of suspected benefits fraudsters to private companies who then trawl social media accounts for evidence of false claims.

Social media, Benefits

The Department of Human Services is believed to have been gathering information in this way, in one cited example by proving via public information posted on Twitter that two individuals claiming single person welfare were in fact in a committed relationship and expecting a child.

Reports in the guardian suggest that these detections arose through the use of private investigators employed on behalf of the department leading to questions as to just how widespread the practice is amongst government agencies.

In another case it is reported that Workcover NSW, a branch of government concerned with the health and safety of employees, had spent $3m to commission over 10 investigators to assist their investigation of claims from 2015 through to 2018.

Defending the practice the Department of Human Services said it had clawed back $2m in false claims since embarking on the initiative.

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