Multi-agency investigation results in arrest of Sydney woman for NDIS fraud

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This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and the National Disability Insurance Agency.

Editor’s note: Vision of the arrest and warrant can be found at this Hightail link.

A Sydney woman has been charged and $5.3 million worth of assets restrained following a multi-agency investigation into alleged fraud against the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The 42-year-old woman was arrested yesterday (25 September) by Australian Federal Police (AFP) Taskforce Iris officers at her Auburn residence.

Operation Pavo – a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Fraud Taskforce investigation comprising members from the AFP’s Taskforce Iris, NDIA and Services Australia – began its investigation into the woman’s activities in June 2020.

Investigators from the three agencies examined complaints a Sydney healthcare practitioner falsified reports, overcharged for services and used allotted NDIS funding while neglecting the best interests of their clients’ needs.

It is also alleged that as a healthcare practitioner, the Auburn woman colluded with other scheme participants and their representatives to misrepresent the value of the services she provided.

The arrest yesterday follows warrants executed in Auburn and Granville in August (previous media release can be found here).

Investigators have seized electronic items and documents which will be subject to further forensic examination.

In addition to the criminal investigation, the AFP’s Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce commenced court proceedings seeking to have several assets linked to the woman restrained. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth), several properties in New South Wales, bank accounts and a vehicle were restrained by the AFP as suspected proceeds of crime in those proceedings.

The restrained vehicle was taken into the possession of the AFP following the woman’s arrest.

The woman was charged with 21 counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and is due to appear before Central Court on 16 December 2020.

Head of Taskforce Iris, AFP Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing said investigators from all three agencies worked tirelessly examining all possible evidence and avenues, despite the complexities and challenges of this particular case.

“Fraud investigations can be very complex matters but our investigators remain committed to preventing Commonwealth funds being siphoned off to line the pockets of people who are greedy, or linked to organised crime groups in Australia.” Deputy Commissioner Pointing said.

“Let this arrest serve as a warning to those who think the NDIS is a target worth exploiting. We will bring as many resources as we need to stop your criminal enterprise, seize your assets, and put you behind bars - and ensure NDIS funds are used for the benefit of people with a disability who need those supports.”

The NDIA said the Taskforce continued to work to protect participants and ensure all funding was used appropriately.

“The NDIA is constantly monitoring its fraud control arrangements to protect the Scheme and the Agency from exploitation through fraud,” the NDIA’s Branch Manager of Scheme Integrity, Scott Britton, said.

“The Agency will not tolerate the misuse of funds intended to support people with disability. Anyone with a concern that fraud is being committed against the NDIS should contact the Fraud Reporting and Scams Helpline on 1800 650 717.”

Media enquiries

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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Read the AFP Annual Report 2019-20

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

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