A northern NSW man who allegedly attempted to defraud a NSW Government scheme of more than $500,000 is the first person to be charged by Strike Force Sainsbery detectives.
In November, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad and all Sydney Metropolitan Regions established Strike Force Sainsbery to investigate fraudulent applications made against the 2021 COVID-19 micro-business grant scheme.
Further, the strike force is investigating fraudulent applications to all recent NSW Government financial relief schemes related to the pandemic and natural disasters.
The NSW Police Force detectives are also being assisted by specialist fraud investigators from Service NSW.
As part of the analysis and cross-referencing of metadata, investigators identified 51 applications totalling $530,000, which were suspected to have been made by one person.
Following further extensive inquiries, detectives arrested a 21-year-old man at Nowra about 9am yesterday (Thursday 16 December 2021).
He was taken to Nowra Police Station while investigators seized a Mercedes Benz utility from Culburra, which is believed to be proceeds of crime.
A short time later, police executed a search warrant at a property at Warialda Rail, where they seized a bio-diesel converter, jewellery, computer equipment, and drones which are also believed to be proceeds of crime.
The Warialda Rail man was charged with 32 counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, 19 counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime
Police will allege in court that the man made 51 fraudulent applications for business grants – totalling $530,000 – using falsified information and documentation. It’s alleged he received $320,000, which was paid into multiple accounts in his name, before the remaining 19 applications were declined.
He has been granted strict conditional bail to appear at Nowra Local Court on Monday 10 January 2022.
State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said yesterday’s arrest is the first of many expected under Strike Force Sainsbery.
“The Financial Crimes Squad has a proud reputation of successfully tackling the most complex matters – taking on criminal syndicates, professional facilitators and other individuals involved in fraud,” Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
“We also have the use of specialised technology to help identify anomalies through the mass analysis and cross-referencing of metadata, which then undergoes further analysis and investigation by detectives.
“I again warn those who’ve made fraudulent claims that Strike Force Sainsbery is onto you; and it’s best to come forward before we come to you.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the result is a reminder of the police and NSW Government’s determination to bring fraudsters to justice.
“Bogus claims are a fraud against every person in NSW, especially those who’ve been doing it tough,” Mr Elliott said.
“These types of schemes are intended to ease financial pressures outside of an individual’s control, like the pandemic or natural disasters; they’re not for fraudsters to treat themselves to a good time.
“We know that people are fed up with these types of crooks and this strike force will stop at nothing to bring them to justice,” Mr Elliott said.
Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said the arrest is a victory for taxpayers and reinforces the importance of the collaborative investigation.
“All NSW citizens are impacted by this illegal and unethical behaviour and the NSW Government will ensure Strike Force Sainsbery investigators have what they need to identify every single sham applicant and hold them to account for their actions,” Mr Dominello said.
“If you have made a fraudulent application, investigators have your details. There is nowhere to hide, and you will be caught, arrested and prosecuted.”
Acting Service NSW CEO Catherine Ellis said the arrest was testament to Strike Force Sainsbery’s cross-government approach.
“By working together closely and sharing information, the NSW Police Force and Service NSW have started the process of exposing these fraudsters. And this is only the beginning,” she said.
Anyone wishing to repay monies should contact Service NSW on 13 77 88.
Investigations under Strike Force Sainsbery are ongoing and further arrests are expected.
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Sainsbery investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.