Some major eBay earners found to claim welfare support

About 100 cases warranted further investigation, Human Services Minister Kim Carr said.
About 100 cases warranted further investigation, Human Services Minister Kim Carr said. Callum Bentley

A PILOT program has uncovered a number of people claiming welfare payments while running lucrative online businesses.

The program, which will become a permanent part of the Federal Government's compliance system from May, matched Centrelink records against 15,000 eBay users and identified more than $800,000 in debts.

About 100 cases warranted further investigation, Human Services Minister Kim Carr said, with some already being referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Many matters remained under investigation, with the Department of Human Services to examine 2011-12 eBay data upon their conclusion.

"About 25 debts have already been raised, with the average debt amount about $32,000 - roughly double the average debt for other types of investigations over the past two financial years," Senator Carr said.

He said the program would help ensure social security payments were going to people who needed the money most.

Senator Carr said people selling only a small number of items online had nothing to fear.

"This isn't aimed at people selling a few second-hand clothes or other items - the program identifies people who earn large amounts from eBay, while also claiming support from the government," Senator Kim Carr said.

"The advent of online trading sites such as eBay gives people new ways of earning income, which is great for business owners and consumers, but income from any source needs to be declared - whether your shop is online or in a mall."

Topics:  centrelink debt ebay federal government online business welfare payments

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