Scam mom-to-be who was so desperate to look ‘rich’ that she stole $180,000 with a brazen Medicare scam learns she’s going to jail despite the pregnancy excuse
- Sarah Ward, 31, swindled $181,121 from Medicare
- Ward had a prior fraud conviction for robbing a hospital
- The mother of two had been desperate to look good in front of her peers.
- She got pregnant while waiting for justice
- The judge said she’s going to jail with her baby
A rampaging con artist who ripped off Medicare to pay for her lavish lifestyle hoped that getting pregnant would save her jail time.
Sarah Ward, 31, of Noble Park North, south-east Melbourne, was working as a receptionist at the Melbourne Digestive Clinic when she filed hundreds of fraudulent Medicare claims totaling $181,121 for herself and her husband.
It was not the first time he had illegally misled taxpayers, with a previous conviction in 2015 for a $29,000 fraud against a Melbourne hospital.
Walk of shame: Sarah Ward leaves the Victoria County Court this Wednesday in what will be her last hours of freedom
The court heard that Ward’s thefts revolved around his desperate need to “present a prosperous appearance to others.”
She made up to 80 calls a day between March 2019 and when she was caught in April 2020.
Court documents indicate that during the year she filed 781 false claims from Medicare patients in her own name and 828 in the name of her husband, Morton Ward, before the clinic’s accountants informed Medicare and authorities.
Ward had gambled on receiving a “get out of jail free card” because she has an 11-month-old son, whom she continues to breastfeed.
His lawyer, Michael Allen, tried to convince Victoria County Court Judge Geoff Chettle that imprisoning his client “would lead to a deterioration in the health and well-being of his son.”
But on Wednesday, the court heard that Ward’s plans had fallen through and her son could live with her in prison through the state’s Living With Mum Program.
Judge Geoff Chettle said the only reason he was allowing Ward to go free while she awaited sentencing was because the program only kicked in after he decided how long he would imprison her.
“If the girl couldn’t go, that would have made it more difficult for her, so I’m leaving her on bail until I sentence her,” he said.
The court heard that Ward had shown little concern for the health and well-being of sick children when he had repeatedly defrauded Australia’s healthcare system.
Ward pleaded guilty to a single count of obtaining a financial advantage by deception from a Commonwealth entity.
Sarah Ward hoped her breastfed son would keep her out of jail. she was wrong
Ward’s baby will now be forced to go to jail with his vile mother who ripped off sick Australians.
Forensic psychologist Patrick Newton told the court that Ward was motivated to steal because she came from a poor family and was bullied at school.
“Ms. Ward concluded that unless she could openly prove herself by accumulating the external trappings of success, she would be destined to experience recurring rejection and thus remain on the periphery of social groups as she had during her youth,” he told the court.
“Ms. Ward seems to have reasoned that she must take advantage of the situation to improve her ability to present a prosperous appearance to others or be doomed to face continued rejection and ostracism.”
Judge Chettle was scathing about Ward’s offense.
“This is really 1,600 crimes committed over the course of a year… on a daily basis she was screwing the system,” he said.
As part of her job, Ward had access to the Medicare patient claims system and used it to make false claims for consultations with the two supervising doctors at the clinic.
Crown prosecutor Adam Murphy charged Ward with “robbing the Australian community”.
In addition, she dismissed Ward’s attempts to convince Judge Chettle that she suffered from a “personality disorder” that forced her to steal.
“Patrick Newton … said word for word “that none of the offender’s traits, either individually or in combination, are severe enough to rise to the level of a personality disorder,” Murphy said.
The court heard that Ward had gotten another job at a psychology practice, whose owners were unaware of his past and current crimes.
“That’s problematic,” Judge Chettle suggested.
The court heard that Ward repaid the money in full, taking $100,000 from a mortgage clearing account and selling a $70,000 car. He also borrowed money from her mother.
Ward will enjoy another day of freedom before his sentencing on Friday.
THE PAST OF THE SCAMMER WITH TITLE IS REVEALED
Ward has a prior conviction for deceptively obtaining property in connection with his fraudulent manipulation of patient claims between November 2, 2015 and December 24, 2015 while working at Cabrini Health in Hawthorn East.
She committed that crime by submitting false patient reimbursement forms on behalf of Cabrini patients, as a result of which she received a combined total of approximately $29,981.96 in patient reimbursement payments to which she was not entitled.
Ward was sentenced on August 17, 2017 to a Community Correction Order for a period of 12 months.
He now works in a psychology practice.