A 25-year-old gay man from South Australia on Monday pleaded guilty in a Melbourne County Court to obtaining property by deception, after he committed a $120,901 Medibank rort to fund a “high-end” lifestyle of flashy clothes, clubs and cocaine, the Herald Sun has reported.
Dwayne Antojado was found to have fled to Melbourne in 2017 after skipping parole in South Australia. In Melbourne he set up 109 false identities to open Medibank accounts between October 2018 and December 2019. He paid the minimum premiums on the accounts, and then lodged multiple fake claims for non-existent health care services under AHM Health Insurance.
Matt Cookson, the lawyer who represented Antojado, told the court that his client had experienced “one crushing defeat after another” after graduating as a “high-achieving” student from Norwood Morialta High School in Adelaide.
Cookson told the court that Antojado had felt pressured to fit in with the South Australian gay scene, describing it as “heavily based on going out, clubbing, being fit, healthy and well-dressed”. According to Antojado, it was “everything he wasn’t.”
Exploited Loophole In Online Claims System
Cookson described how Antojado had exploited a loophole in AHM’s online claims system, whereby receipts were not required. Antojado then funnelled the embezzled funds into various bank accounts held under his name.
According to Cookson, Antojado came up with his elaborate scheme after a consultant for AHM led him through the claims process
“That offending was how he got the money to keep up with the lifestyle he had adopted. It was through that money that he acquired the lifestyle,” the lawyer said.
After Antojado was arrested for unrelated offences in June 2019, his elaborate scheme began to unravel. A search warrant was issued and it ultimately led to the police arresting and charging Antojado in December 2019.
Drawn To Melbourne’s Clubbing Scene
Describing it as a “a fall from grace” Cookson said that Antojado “just left his legal issues behind in South Australia.” He skipped town and traveled to Melbourne, where he was drawn to the city’s clubbing scene, and cocaine and MDMA were his “drugs of choice”.
Discussing his client’s drug use, Antojado added that, “Ice was such that he wouldn’t try it (the drug) due to the stigma, but cocaine was a more high-end drug in his eye … not because of its effects but more about how it allowed him to fit in … (it was) the genesis of the offending.”
Having now spent 606 days on remand, Judge Kellie Blair deferred sentencing to March 25 next year. The court released Antojado on bail with strict conditions that he reside with his mother in Shepparton North.
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
© Star Observer 2021 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.