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Appeal Denied For Woman Guilty Of Welfare Fraud

| by Alex Scarr

A woman who falsely claimed $86,000 in housing subsidies had her appeal to lighten her sentence denied in court Feb. 22.

Rebecca Khodragha, 44, had been living in public housing since 1999 despite her husband owning and operating a lucrative electrical contracting company, according to the Daily Mail. She was found guilty of welfare fraud in 2016.

Khodragha had been sentenced to three months of house arrest and had hoped to have the sentence reduced to community service. Officials learned of the potential fraud when they discovered Khodragha's husband, Khaled Sabsabi, operated his electrical business from the public housing address, according to the Daily Mail.

Khodragha and Sabsabi were married in 1991 but did not register the union in Australia, according to reports. Kodragha will have to pay legal costs of $28,814 to the prosecution in addition to her three months of house arrest.

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The Daily Mail reports that Khodragha and Sabsabi owned two other properties in Australia, both of which were sold for a profit. Sabsabi's electrical business also reported an annual income of more than $1 million.

Khodragha's lawyer, Zemarai Kahtiz, argued that Khodraga's fraud extended only from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20, 2014, when she applied for a rent subsidy application. She received a rebate of $8,036.40 and should only be held liable for that amount, according to The Daily Telegraph.

"The sentence needs to fit the crime ... we're not talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here," Khatiz told The Daily Telegraph. Khatiz also told the court that Khodragha suffers from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. The judge who heard the case said he did not see a "scintilla of evidence" for mental health issues before 2016, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Khodragha has been fired from her job as a secretary at a local hospital and will remain under house arrest until May 21, according to reports.

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There are currently over 60,000 people on the waiting list for public housing, according to the Daily Mail.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph / Photo credit: Damian Shaw via Daily Mail Australia

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