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Benefit Fraud - How Nabjeet Singh stole $360,000

His crimes were discovered in 2013 when he was extradited to New Zealand.

Nabjeet Singh, who was a welfare cheat investigator himself, stole $360,000 through benefit fraud in New Zealand. According to NZ Herald, a review of the crime has revealed that Nabjeet Singh created four fake beneficiary identities and collected payments over 12 years while holding different roles at the Ministry of Social Development.

According to an internal memo dated August 2014, the way in which Nabjeet committed the fraud had made it very difficult to detect. Checks with Immigration New Zealand and the department of Internal Affairs confirmed the individuals apparently claiming benefits did not exist. The supposed children of those beneficiaries - for whom they were receiving extra payments - also did not exist.

"The way in which Nabjeet committed this fraud made it very difficult to detect. Our investigation had identified high levels of concealment, obstruction, premeditation and planning," according to an internal memo dated August 2014.

Singh took steps to cover his tracks all those years by changing his phone numbers listed in MSD records. However, all the payments for the four identities he created went in the same bank account. Singh stopped creating new identities after MSD introduced identity matching, but the data mining still failed to detect false identities.

Singh worked as a Case Manager at the Ministry of Social Development before working as an investigator. As a case manager, he had full rights to access and process payments. This level of access was not changed when he started his new role.

"He exploited this and continued to grant and process financial assistance for the fake identities he created," said Kate Wareham, the author of the 2014 memo.

New Zealand Currency
New Zealand Currency

It wasn’t until a whistle-blower informed the department about the fraud that the department found out about it. In January 2013, an informant had alleged that Singh’s partner, who was also working at MSD, was receiving financial assistance from IRD under a fictitious name.

Singh’s partner reigned two months after the allegations but this lead to the unravelling of Singh’s long running fraud within the department. Singh resigned in 2011 and left for Australia.

Another weakness highlighted in the internal review was the fact Singh and his partner was allowed to resign, with immediate effect, while under investigation.

The pair were described as a "small minority of cases" where staff were allowed to resign, instead of being dismissed in line with the MSD's 'Zero Tolerance' policy for benefit fraud.

The 'Zero Tolerance' policy to prosecute staff for benefit fraud was also cited as a reason to extradite Singh from Australia.

As well as being sent to prison, Singh's home was seized by the police under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.

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