A 35-year-old West Australian woman charged last year with allegedly submitting multiple false claims to gain early access to superannuation savings worth $330,000, will now face 31 fraud offences, following ongoing inquiries by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT).
The High Wycombe woman was accused of submitting several false hardship claims from early 2019 on behalf of other people, to access superannuation payments of up to $10,000 each.
The woman faced Perth Magistrates Court today (23 April) charged with:
- 31 counts of with intent to defraud, by deceit or fraudulent means, induced a person to do an act that the person was lawfully entitled to abstain from doing, contrary to section 409(1)(e) of the Criminal Code Act 1913 (WA).
The potential maximum penalty for these offences is seven years’ imprisonment.
These charges replace the four initial offences of:
- Two counts of making a false Commonwealth document with the intention that document be used to dishonestly induce a third person to accept it as genuine and if it was so accepted, to dishonestly obtain a gain, contrary to subsection 144.1 (5) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- Two counts of knowingly using false Commonwealth documents to dishonestly induce an employee of an organisation, in their capacity as an authorised representative, to accept it as genuine and, if it was so accepted, to dishonestly obtain a gain, contrary to contrary to subsection 145.1 (5) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
This criminal investigation by the AFP Taskforce Iris investigators was completed in partnership with the ATO-led SFCT.
AFP investigators executed a search warrant at the woman’s High Wycombe home on 22 May (2020), where they seized several documents, $1,750 cash, ink-based business identification and certification stamps, and electronic devices.
AFP Detective Acting Inspector Peter Brindal said the AFP is committed to working alongside its Commonwealth and state law enforcement partners to stamp out fraud and identify those seeking to exploit government benefits.
“We want to send a message to those who try to take advantage of the systems designed to support those in need – you will be found and be held to account,” Detective Acting Inspector Brindal said.
ATO Deputy Commissioner and SFCT Chief Will Day said this arrest is a testament to the strength of the SFCT.
“This arrest demonstrates the SFCT’s ability to deliver a whole of government response to target alleged criminal behaviour,” Mr Day said.
“It sends a clear message to the community that we do bring those who exploit the tax and super system to account for their actions. We have robust systems in place that stop this sort of crime – quickly, and decisively.”
The SFCT brings together the knowledge, resources and experience of relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies to identify and address the most serious and complex forms of financial crime, which costs the Australian community millions of dollars in lost revenue each year.
The SFCT includes the ATO, AFP, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Department of Home Affairs, including Australian Border Force and Services Australia.
Anyone with information about suspected fraud of Government benefits can make a report via the “Reporting Fraud” page on the Services Australia website at servicesaustralia.gov.au/fraud, or by calling the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 13 15 24.
Tip-offs about taxation or superannuation matters can also be made to the Australian Taxation Office online at ato.gov.au/tipoff or by calling the ATO on 1800 060 062.