Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

David Alan KNIPE - Welfare fraud

South Australia

On 3 August 2016, 64-year-old David Alan Knipe was sentenced to four years and nine months imprisonment after pleading guilty in the Adelaide District Court for engaging in fraudulent activity.

Between 2006 and 2016, Knipe devised a complex scheme setting out to defraud Centrelink by submitting false declarations and statements to obtain social security payments that included Newstart Allowance, Disability Support Pension and Age Pension, to which he was not entitled.

Knipe’s scheme was in part facilitated by using false identities including those of two deceased infants who were born around the same time as him. He obtained primary identification documents in the infants’ names, including birth certificates and driver’s licences. Knipe used those documents to submit Australian Passport Applications in both of the infant’s names; he successfully obtained one passport which he used for travel on eight occasions.

The primary identification documents were also presented to Centrelink in support of Knipe’s claims for payments in both of the infants’ names.

The offending was detected via investigations conducted by via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Centrelink.

Knipe was arrested in New South Wales on 22 April 2015 and was extradited to South Australia the following day.

Knipe defrauded Centrelink of $125,586.20 as a result of his false claims. The court ordered that he repay the full amount to the Commonwealth.   

Charge / Sentence

Knipe was convicted and sentenced on 3 August 2016 after guilty pleas in relation to:

  • Two counts of making a false statement in relation to an Australian travel document contrary to section 29(1) of the Australian Passports Act 2005. 
  • Eight counts of improper use of an Australian travel document contrary to section 32(2) of the Australian Passports Act 2005.
  • Two counts of producing a false or misleading document contrary to section 137(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.
  • Three counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code.
  • One count of dishonestly obtaining a gain contrary to section 135.1(1) of the Criminal Code.
  • One count of obtaining a financial advantage contrary to section 135.2(1) of the Criminal Code.

Knipe was sentenced to four years and nine months imprisonment with a non-parole period of two years and six months, backdated to 22 April 2015 when he was remanded in custody.  This sentence was upheld on appeal by the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia.

Sentencing Remarks

In sentencing, Judge Stretton said: “Your offending involved a high level of planning, premeditation, deception and fraudulent conduct over an extended period, committed primarily for significant financial gain. It was very, very dishonest behavior. Significant identity fraud was at the root of the scheme. General and personal deterrence must play a significant role in any sentence.”