[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Jail for record NZ benefit fraud
Credit cards
Police found cash, fake bank cards and gold bars in Patterson's home
A man has been jailed for eight years after stealing $NZ3.48m (1.32m, $2.7m) in New Zealand's largest case of benefits fraud.

Wayne Patterson, 47, admitted to using 123 identities from 2003 to 2006 to steal from the nation's welfare system.

Mr Patterson has previously been convicted of fraud in Australia, the US and New Zealand, a judge said.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has tightened ID checks since the case, a ministry official said.

We've done very well. He's invested very wisely
Peter Hughes
MSD chief executive
New Zealand High Court Justice Peter Woodhouse ordered Patterson to serve a minimum of five years in jail after Patterson pleaded guilty to 10 charges of identity crimes and forgery in a district court.

Police found NZ$950,000 (361,500, $734,000) in cash, boxes of fake birth certificates and bank cards, works of art and gold bars - 18 of which were hidden under a shower - in a raid of Patterson's Auckland flat in October last year.


Patterson used the fake documents to obtain NZ$3.4m in welfare, which he then invested in foreign companies including Apple Computer, as well as buying and selling gold bullion, police say.

Patterson's smart investing netted him a NZ$1m profit. He had Swiss and Austrian bank accounts and companies in Panama.

And the government will benefit from his market savvy, with $467,000 of the profit to be recovered under New Zealand's Proceeds of Crimes Act, MSD chief executive Peter Hughes said.

"We've done very well. He's invested very wisely," he said.

"If this had been his own money, even half of it, he'd be set up for life."

In 1991, Patterson was jailed for eight years on fraud charges in the US. He was deported to New Zealand after serving three years.

In Australia, he also served three years in jail after using 43 fake identities to commit benefit fraud.

Mr Hughes said the department had started checking birth certificates against birth records for all welfare recipients since April.

Fiji match pulled over visa row
12 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
NZ volcano eruption injures man
26 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
New Zealand call to Maori expats
01 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
NZ's lone terror suspect splits country
25 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: New Zealand
05 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific