Arrest made in welfare fraud ring

A Taiwanese national suspected of rorting more than $130,000 in COVID-19 support payments has been arrested in Sydney overnight.

The arrest of the 34-year-old male comes off the back of an investigation by Taskforce Integrity, a joint operation between Services Australia and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The man is suspected of being a part of a criminal syndicate that has siphoned COVID-19 Disaster Payments and Pandemic Leave Disaster Payments into sham bank accounts via a range of criminal means. Fraudsters are believed to have posed as an accounting agency on a messaging app and offered to submit payment claims on respondent’s behalf in exchange for their details and a fee. The man is also alleged to have stolen several identities and claimed payments in these names.   

Minister for Government Services the Hon Bill Shorten, said the arrest sounds a clear warning for anyone attempting to steal from vulnerable Australians.

“Make no mistake – fleecing people of welfare payments is not only despicable, it’s a sure ticket to prosecution,” Minister Shorten said.
“Only scumbags steal from flood victims and taxpayers.

“This is taxpayer money designed to help Australians struggling with the impact of COVID-19. If you defraud the public purse you will be held to account.

“Services Australia and the AFP are working in lockstep with significant and sophisticated fraud detection capability, and I congratulate these agencies for their robust defence of our public funding.”
Minister Shorten said Taskforce Integrity was a shining example of the effectiveness of interagency operations.

“The Government is committed to combating the scourge of fraudulent activity directed at taxpayer money. That’s why we announced the Fraud Fusion Taskforce in this week’s Budget. The Taskforce will target National Disability Insurance Scheme provider fraud initially but will also include broader fraud detection and prevention benefits for other government agencies, including Services Australia payment fraud.”

“Federal agencies are continuing to tighten the net on fraudsters and will no doubt keep catching and preventing criminals stealing public funds.”

Additional information

Taskforce Integrity is a joint operation between Services Australia and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that helps to fight against criminals seeking to exploit the Australian welfare system. 
The Taskforce has enhanced the Governments’ ability to prevent, detect and respond to instances of suspected fraud.