Melbourne man charged with fraudulently claiming more than $18 thousand in welfare payments

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

This is a joint release between the Australian Federal Police and Services Australia.

A 34-year-old Melbourne man accused of fraudulently accessing Commonwealth welfare payments and other Federal Government grants appeared before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday (30 November 2020) on 6 fraud-related offences.

The man was charged after an investigation by Taskforce Integrity, a joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Services Australia initiative established to identify and target criminal activity within Australia’s welfare system.

Police will allege that between May and November 2020, the man used stolen identities to create several fraudulent myGov accounts in order to re-direct payments into bank accounts he controlled.

He allegedly also used those stolen details to set up the bank accounts where the funds were deposited and submit claims for other Commonwealth grants, including COVID-19 crisis payments.

The 34-year-old man was arrested in Strathmore and further investigations into his alleged offending is ongoing.

He has been charged with six counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth.) and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for each offence.

AFP Commander Anthony McClement said the AFP and Services Australia were committed to stamping out criminal exploitation of Commonwealth support packages and protecting those most in need of the help.

“Despite the impacts of COVID-19, the AFP and its partners continue to work tirelessly to and remain focused on disrupting and charging offenders who are defrauding the public and trying to exploit this pandemic for their own greed,” Commander McClement said.

“It’s also a timely reminder for Australians to make sure their personal financial details are secure – don’t be an easy target for criminals. Set strong passwords and update them regularly, and enable multi-factor authentication when signing into your accounts.”

Services Australia General Manager Hank Jongen said the latest successful Taskforce Integrity investigation should serve as a warning to anyone looking to commit fraud.

“We take our responsibility to make sure people aren’t accessing payments they aren’t entitled to seriously,” Mr Jongen said.

“Our strong relationship with our AFP partners means we’re able to quickly find, investigate and disrupt fraud.”

Anyone with information about suspected fraud of Government benefits can make a report via the “Reporting Fraud” page on the Services Australia website at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/contact-us/reporting-fraud, or by calling the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 13 15 24.

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