Anita Joshi, Australia : A 27-year-old Albury woman was charged today by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as part of a major multi-agency investigation into fraudulent government payments to a family day care provider.
The arrest is a result of a joint AFP, Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Social Services (DSS) investigation after irregularities were identified in payments of government benefits to a family day care provider.
It will be alleged in court that since December 2013, the director of the family day care provider claimed Special Child Care Subsidies (SCCB), exceeding $3 million, which she was not entitled to receive.
SCCB is a payment that subsidises up to the full cost of child care for a child who is at risk of serious abuse or neglect, or where the child’s family is experiencing temporary financial hardship.
The AFP, with the assistance of DHS and DSS, executed a number of search warrants in the Albury-Wodonga area earlier today, where a number of evidentiary items were seized.
As a result of the investigation, the 27-year-old was arrested and charged with three counts of Obtaining a Financial Benefit By Deception contrary to Section 134.2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
AFP officers from the Criminal and Asset Confiscation Taskforce restrained cash and property of $2.2 million, which includes cash to the value of approximately $2.1 million and a vehicle worth approximately $90,000.
AFP Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre Manager Linda Champion said today’s activity sends a strong message to those engaging in this type of alleged criminal activity.
“The AFP, DSS and DHS have worked together closely on this serious and complex investigation, bringing together the resources and expertise of each agency to undertake today’s action,” Commander Champion said.
“Investigations like this send a clear message to anyone who is thinking of engaging in this type of criminal activity – collectively we have proven our ability to investigate and take action, as we have done today.”
General Manager DHS, Hank Jongen said “Fraud will not be tolerated and we will continue our efforts to make sure that payments are correct. If there are people out there who think they can get away with fraud, they need to think again. It is only a matter of time before we catch up with them, and when we do, we will make sure they are dealt with in the courts.”
A DSS spokesperson said “Child care services who are doing the wrong thing are on notice. DSS takes non-compliance very seriously and, as demonstrated in this case today, will use all means available to us to enforce the law where the evidence warrants it. This includes our ongoing work with a wide range of regulatory and law enforcement agencies such as DHS and the AFP.”
The AFP-hosted multi-agency FAC Centre has been established to enhance the Commonwealth’s response to prevent, detect and investigate serious and complex Commonwealth fraud and corruption. This current investigation demonstrates the success of such a collaborative approach.
The woman is expected to appear in Albury Local Court on 26 May, 2015.