Thirteen charged as police dismantle family day care fraud syndicate in Sydney’s south west

Thirteen people have been charged after an alleged criminal syndicate operating a large-scale family day care fraud in Sydney’s south-west was dismantled by police today.

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.

Since the commencement of the strike force, the NSW Department of Education has also assisted with inquiries.

As part of ongoing investigations, police received information that a criminal syndicate, allegedly directed by a 46-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man, was operating a sophisticated scam and received up to $500,000 in government payments between March and October this year.

It will be alleged in court that the government funds that were fraudulently acquired include $138,000 from the COVID-19 stimulus package to support the childcare sector, and ongoing fraud from the childcare subsidy program.

From 6am today (Wednesday 21 October 2020), Strike Force Mercury detectives executed 34 search warrants at 18 properties and on vehicles across Sydney, including Blair Athol, Bossley Park, Canley Heights, Edensor Park, Elizabeth Hills, Fairfield, Green Valley, Greenfield Park, Guildford, Lane Cove, Merrylands and Smithfield.

Today’s operation was assisted by the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor, the Public Order and Riot Squad (PORS) and Regional Enforcement Squads from North-West Metropolitan and South-West Metropolitan regions.

Detectives seized documents, laptops and several electronic devices for forensic examination.

A 46-year-old woman was arrested in Guildford and taken to Granville Police Station, where she was charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of cause delivery, document with false statement, Migration Act.

A 29-year-old man was arrested at a home in Blair Athol and taken to Campbelltown Police Station where he was charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud.

It will be alleged that the pair were the silent directors of a company which fraudulently claimed to provide family day care services in order to successfully apply for government subsidies to the value of $500,000.

It will be further alleged that the woman married another man in March this year, in order for him to be granted a partner visa to remain in Australia.

She was granted conditional bail to appear at Fairfield Local Court on Monday 16 November 2020.

The man was also granted conditional bail to appear at Campbelltown Local Court on Monday 16 November 2020.

As part of the operation, a further eleven people were arrested and charged for their alleged roles in the scam, including another seven women – a 45-year-old, 40-year-old, two 30-year-olds, two 29-year-olds, and a 28-year-old – and four more men – a 37-year-old, 34-year-old, 29-year-old and a 26-year-old.

They were all charged with the offence of dishonestly intend to cause a loss and granted conditional bail to face court next month.

Inquiries 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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