Strike Force Mercury charge man over fake marriage for benefit

A man has been charged over an alleged marriage scam, which was uncovered during an investigation into family day care fraud by the Financial Crimes Squad.

In July 2018, detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad and Organised Crime Squad, along with the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), established Strike Force Mercury to investigate the coordinated fraudulent activities targeting family day care operations.

As part of the ongoing investigation, Strike Force Mercury detectives charged 13 people and dismantled a sophisticated and organised criminal operation yesterday (Wednesday 21 October 2020).

It’s alleged the syndicate fraudulently claimed and received up to $500,000 in government childcare subsidies and COVID-19 relief packages between March and October this year.

Through the course of inquiries, detectives received information that a woman had married a man in order for him to receive a visa to remain in Australia.

A 46-year-old woman was charged by investigators as part of yesterday’s operation.

Following further inquiries, the 38-year-old man was arrested at Auburn Police Station about 8.30am today (Thursday 22 October 2020), where he was charged with cause delivery, document with false statement, Migration Act.

Police will allege in court that the man and woman were legally married, despite not being in a relationship, and submitted false and misleading documents and staged photographs to apply for a Partner Visa.

He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Burwood Local Court on Thursday 12 November 2020.

The matter has also been referred to the Department of Home Affairs.

State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said the Financial Crimes Squad was continuing to uncover similar scams targeting other schemes intended to help everyday Australians.

“During investigations into CTP Green Slip scams, we learnt that organised crime syndicates will use their tried and tested fraudulent methods in attempts to defraud a variety of other schemes,” Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“This time around, investigations into family day care fraud have uncovered attempted and actual frauds against schemes like JobSeeker, and immigration laws.

“Put simply, these syndicates are operating business of fraud and exploiting government schemes that have been established to relieve financial pressures during these tough times.

“Not only are those in need potentially missing out, but every single taxpayer has to foot the bill when fraudsters cheat these schemes,” Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

Investigations under Strike Force Mercury are continuing.

Anyone with information about fraudulent activity 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.

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