Sydney man charged with Covid payment fraud

A Sydney man has been charged with making allegedly fraudulent claims of more than $130,000 in COVID-19 disaster payments and pandemic leave disaster payments, following a group investigation integrity work.

The Taiwanese national, 34, is due to appear in Downing Center Local Court today (October 27, 2022) charged with fraud and proceeds of crime.

Police will allege the man was part of a criminal syndicate that fraudulently claimed COVID-19 disaster and pandemic leave payments.

Taskforce Integrity is a joint initiative of AFP and Services Australia to identify and target serious criminal activity within Australia’s welfare system.

The investigation into this case began following reports that payments were being claimed under false identities.

Police allege the union used stolen identities, demanded payments on their behalf and directed the funds to bank accounts controlled by the union.

AFP officers, together with Services Australia fraud investigators, executed a search warrant at a unit in Sydney’s central business district yesterday (26 October 2022). The man was later arrested and charged over the fraud allegations.

During a search of the address, investigators located and seized designer handbags and accessories, more than 20 cell phones and $77,500 in cash.

AFP Detective Inspector Rachel Ball said AFP and Services Australia are committed to stamping out criminal exploitation of Commonwealth payments intended to help those in real need.

“Commonwealth program fraud is a key area of ​​interest for AFP and its partners, and we will relentlessly pursue anyone who seeks to exploit our welfare system,” she said.

The man was charged with:

  • One count of obtaining a financial advantage by deception contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth),
  • One count of dealing in proceeds of crime, money or property over $50,000 contrary to section 400.5(2) of the Criminal Code (Cth) and;
  • One count of dealing with property reasonably suspected of being the proceeds of crime, contrary to section 400.9(1A) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offenses is 10 years imprisonment, seven years imprisonment and two years imprisonment respectively.

Investigations into the fraud syndicate continue.

The Australian Government introduced the COVID-19 Disaster Lump Sum Payments in June 2021 to help people whose incomes have been affected by state and territory government restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreaks. Pandemic Disaster Leave payments were introduced to help eligible claimants who were unable to earn an income due to having to self-isolate or care for someone who needed to self-isolate. isolate.

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Elaine R. Knight