Police dismantle alleged criminal syndicate involved in fraudulent Covid disaster payments

“Deliberate” and “coordinated” fraudsters who allegedly received fraudulent Covid disaster payments from the NSW Government will be brought to justice.

Three men have been charged by police after they allegedly claimed more than $1.3 million in fraudulent pandemic payments from the NSW government.

Strike Force Sainsbery, which was set up to investigate fraudulent claims made against state government financial aid programs, uncovered an alleged criminal syndicate during their investigations.

On Thursday morning, police executed three search warrants at homes in the Sydney suburbs of Auburn, Chester Hill and Carramar.

Three men were arrested, while police also seized cash, electronic devices and documents.

A 48-year-old man, who police say coordinated the union in asking others to submit fraudulent claims and received the majority of payments, has been charged with 22 offences.

They knowingly include the direct activities of a criminal group, process identity information to commit a criminal act (x7) and dishonestly obtain financial advantage, etc. by deception (x14).

A 34-year-old man has been charged with 17 offences, including participating in criminal activity by a criminal group, possession of prohibited drugs, trafficking identity information to commit an indictable offense (x3) and dishonest obtaining of a financial advantage by deception (x12).

A 30-year-old man has been charged with 18 offenses including participating in a criminal group in criminal activities, manipulating identity information to commit a criminal act (x6) and dishonestly obtaining an advantage financier by deception (x11).

It will be alleged that the duo obtained personal identity information and bank details for the purpose of submitting fraudulent claims against the Covid-19 Microbusiness Grant and Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate.

Financial Crimes Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett said the arrests should serve as a lesson to other fraudsters.

She said police would claim the alleged union was operating “opportunistically” and “they would now face the prospect of languishing in jail”.

Service NSW’s executive director of risk, strategy and performance, Catherine Ellis, also said she would continue to stop the fraud.

“It is incredibly disappointing that deliberate and coordinated (alleged fraud) has undermined the systems put in place to support NSW businesses in one of the most difficult times we have seen, she said.

The three men were denied bail to appear in Bankstown Local Court on Friday.

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