FIVE people have been arrested, accused of defrauding the National Disability Insurance Scheme of more than $1 million in western Sydney.
Three men and two women aged between 27 and 40 were arrested in Lurnea and Liverpool early on Wednesday morning and each charged with a range of fraud and proceeds of crime offences.
A sixth person is expected to be issued a summons to appear before court to answer a related charge at a later date.
Today’s arrests follow a protracted investigation led by the NDIS Fraud Taskforce.
It’s alleged the group controlled and exploited three registered NDIS providers that are accused of claiming more than $1.1 million in NDIS payments from over 70 people on disability plans, or those managing their affairs.
Investigations into the true scale of this fraud are continuing, with more than 100 other potential victims identified through the three entities – Universal Group Australia Pty Ltd, Reliance Disability Services and United Mission.
The three providers are believed to have received more than $2.6 million in NDIS payments since December 2017, but further enquiries are needed to determine whether these payments are legitimate or fraudulent.
It is also suspected that syndicate members applied to register another four entities as NDIS providers to claim payments.
During Wednesday morning’s action, Federal Police also seized three luxury high-end vehicles – a Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and Mercedes E63.
AFP Acting Commander Mark McIntyre, Manager Criminal Assets and Fraud and Anti-Corruption, and said police were committed to targeting those deliberately exploiting the Australian community.
“This is an organised criminal activity preying on those that society has chosen to help– it took money directly out of the pockets of NDIS participants, reducing their ability to obtain crucial assistance and services to help them lead their lives,” he said.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case, and we will continue to work with our taskforce partners to identify those preying on our needy and bring them to account for their selfish and despicable actions.”
Acting CEO of the NDIA, Vicki Rundle, said the NDIS Fraud Taskforce was a partnership with a focus on high-risk and serious criminal activity targeting the NDIS.
“The NDIA is committed to working with families impacted by alleged fraud and ensuring they have their funds reinstated in their plans where appropriate,” she said.
“We want to make it clear that fraud of the NDIS will not be tolerated. The NDIA takes the matter of fraud very seriously and will continue to invest in our capability to continue to identify attempts to defraud the scheme”.
The Department of Human Services also has an important role in the NDIS Fraud Taskforce, providing expert capability to detect and investigate organised criminal networks that seek to take advantage of vulnerable members of the community.
Anyone with information about suspected fraud involving the NDIS should contact the Fraud Hotline on 1800 650 717.
You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.