Further 22 people charged over family day care fraud syndicate

Detectives investigating family day care fraud have charged a further 22 people over their alleged role in the criminal syndicate.

In July 2018, detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad and Organised Crime Squad established Strike Force Mercury to investigate the coordinated fraudulent activities targeting family day care operations.

The strike force has also been assisted by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the NSW Department of Education and NSW Crime Commission.

Police will allege in court that the syndicate fraudulently claimed Commonwealth payments under the Child Care Subsidy schemes.

It will be alleged the syndicate fraudulently claimed at least $3.9 million in payments over a 10-month period.

In May 2019, Strike Force Mercury detectives executed 23 search warrants and charged 17 people. They remain before the courts.

As part of further inquiries, seven women – aged 32, 35, 47, two aged 41 and two aged 43 – were arrested at homes in Sydney’s south west on Tuesday (10 September 2019) and taken to local police stations.

A 41-year-old Georges Hall woman was charged with knowingly direct activities of criminal group.

The other six women were all charged with participate in a criminal group.

A 24-year-old man was issued a Future Court Attendance Notice for participate in a criminal group.

Following further investigations, 16 women – aged 30, 32, 33, 34, 38, 46, 47, 51, two aged 28, two aged 31, two aged 39 and two aged 40 – were arrested today (Thursday 12 September 2019).

They were all taken to local police stations, where 14 of the women were charged with participate in a criminal group.

Police will allege in court that the women provided the personal details of their children and knowingly participated in activities associated with making fraudulent claims.

They have all been granted conditional bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court on Monday 30 September 2019.

Two women – aged 32 and 47 – were released pending further inquiries.

State Crime Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said this week’s arrests are a significant milestone for the investigation.

“Investigators have now charged 39 people involved in this syndicate and more arrests are expected,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“Our objective is to completely dismantle the business model which we know is being used by at least 100 other syndicates with an estimated potential value of the fraud across Sydney at least $750 million per year.

“This should act as a further warning for anyone else involved in similar syndicates – you are being monitored and we will arrest anyone who intends to make fraudulent family day care claims.

“NSW will not be a haven for professional facilitators of fraud and we will not tolerate men and women exploiting a government scheme that was established to relive financial pressures of parents,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

Police Minister, David Elliott, said the results are a victory for all tax payers and a powerful reminder of the need for the Strike Force.

“Strike Force Mercury has now exposed an extensive network of fraudsters – including mums and dads – caught up in a sophisticated syndicate,” Minister Elliott said.

“The people of NSW are fed up with paying higher child care rates because of these crooks and this crackdown will deliver justice to every tax payer in the country.”

Joint investigations under Strike Force Mercury are ongoing.

Anyone with information in relation to professionally facilitated fraud is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

Information about family day care fraud can also be provided to the Department of Education and Training on 02 6121 5450 or fraud@education.gov.au.

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