$22 million suspicious disaster claims blocked

More than $22 million of taxpayers’ dollars has been prevented from going to scammers and fraudsters trying to rort the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment claims and the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments.

There are currently close to 1,000 criminal investigations underway and 20 referrals to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Minister for Government Services, Bill Shorten, said that while the vast majority of claims are genuine, thousands of suspicious claims worth millions of dollars have been blocked before being paid.

“While Services Australia’s priority has been to process and pay disaster claims as quickly as possible, their enhanced fraud prevention capabilities have saved the taxpayer millions of dollars and uncovered criminal activity,” Minister Shorten said.

“Services Australia has rejected $10 million in Pandemic Leave Department Leave claims because of fraud.

“Services Australia’s sophisticated fraud checks detect claims that have the potential to be fraudulent, and these are flagged for a staff member to review before the payment is made.

“These preventative measures are a critical first line of defence. They not only save the amount of the fraudulent claim, but also the time and resources it takes to recoup the money later on.

“Post-payment checks are also uncovering identity fraud, where criminals are illegally claiming the payment in the name of others, or creating fake identities.

“These detection capabilities are helping Services Australia protect customers from ID theft and are resulting in criminal investigations.

“It’s disappointing that people intentionally try to defraud payments that are being delivered to people who genuinely need support.

“It’s not worth it – Services Australia’s fraud detection capability is continually evolving. People who do the wrong thing will get caught.”

Minister for Emergency Services, Senator Murray Watt, said it was extremely low act to intentionally try to scam money intended to support people impacted by difficult circumstances like floods and the pandemic.

“It's un-Australian and they should be ashamed of themselves,” Minister Watt said.

“The Government is committed to ensuring communities with a legitimate need are supported as quickly as possible, but the message is clear, if you attempt to claim money you aren’t entitled to, you should expect to be caught.”

Suspected fraud can be reported online at servicesaustralia.gov.au/fraud or by calling 131 524.