Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Media release

Joint media release with the Hon Stuart Robert MP - First arrest on coronavirus welfare fraud

The Morrison Government’s new anti-fraud Taskforce Iris has made its first arrest over alleged fraudulent welfare claims designed to help Australians affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the recent bushfires.

Services Australia identified a range of suspicious claims submitted by the 34-year year old Western Sydney man and worked directly with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to stop the illegal activity.

It is alleged that since January 2020, the man had assumed up to 11 identities as well as 53 fictitious identities to submit a number of claims for Government benefits. These include:

  • 65 fraudulent claims for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment in the context of the summer 2019-20 bushfires;
  • 1 fraudulent claim for Newstart allowance;
  • 2 fraudulent claims for JobSeeker Payments, which includes the Coronavirus Supplement that is intended to support the rate of JobSeeker Payment due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The value of fraudulent payments the man allegedly tried to claim is approximately $70,550 in total.

The man has been charged with a number of Commonwealth offences, including obtaining a financial advantage by deception. Some of these offences carry penalties of up to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the Government is committed to stamping out illegal activity against government payments.

‘We have specialised teams that are highly skilled in detecting and investigating fraudulent activity and the AFP in partnership with Services Australia is working to ensure that every dollar of income support goes to families who actually need it,’ Mr Dutton said.

Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert, said Services Australia is doing everything it can to protect vulnerable customers and taxpayers money.

‘The misuse of identity information for fraud and criminal purposes causes substantial harm to Services Australia customers and the economy each year. Protecting the welfare system, the identities of Australians and supporting those who are most vulnerable is imperative to what we do,’ Mr Robert said.

Suspected welfare fraud can be reported via the ‘Reporting Fraud’ page on the Services Australia website at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/fraud, or by calling the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 13 15 24.