Two women have been charged by the Federal Government’s new anti-fraud Taskforce, after allegedly using fake identities to claim thousands of dollars in bushfire and coronavirus welfare payments.
The pair, aged 27 and 24, were arrested at their homes in Port Macquarie on Thursday, following a joint investigation by Services Australia, the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police.
It’s alleged the women used 25 different identities to make 25 fraudulent claims for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment in relation to the country’s tragic summer bushfires.
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The pair also made one fake Job Seeker claim, which is designed to assist those who have lost their jobs due to the virus pandemic.
The women managed to get $10,000 before the alarm was raised.
Both have since been charged with eight counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, contrary to Commonwealth legislation, which carries a maximum of ten years in prison.
The pair were granted bail to appear in Port Macquarie Local Court on 22 July.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the government takes fraud and the protection of the welfare system very seriously.
“The AFP and Services Australia have ramped up their efforts to make sure we come down heavily on people who seek to rip off taxpayer money that was intended to support people whose lives have been turned upside down by the devastating bushfires or COVID-19,” Mr Dutton said.
“Stealing from the welfare system is not a victimless crime and our government has zero tolerance for those who seek to do so”.