Monterey man charged over NDIS fraud

Police raids: AFP officers executed 11 search warrants across a number of Sydney suburbs, including Monterey, on Tuesday. Picture: AFP
Police raids: AFP officers executed 11 search warrants across a number of Sydney suburbs, including Monterey, on Tuesday. Picture: AFP

A Monterey man is among six people arrested over his alleged involvement in a syndicate accused of defrauding the NDIS to the tune of more than $10 million.

A joint media statement released this morning by the Australian Federal Police, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), AUSTRAC and Services Australia said six people allegedly involved in the crime syndicate had been arrested by the Australian Federal Police over the multi-million dollar fraud against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

It is alleged they fraudulently claimed more than $10 million in NDIS funding since 2017.

Their arrests came after more than 100 AFP investigators, forensic specialists and 50 partner agency members conducted raids across Sydney on Tuesday.

AFP officers executed 11 search warrants across a number of Sydney suburbs, including Monterey.

During the raids, police seized eight kilograms of gold bullion from a vault at a secure premises, worth approximately $600,000; about $600,000 in cash from multiple residential properties; $635,176 in cryptocurrency; three vehicles, including a BMW M3, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne with a combined value of approximately $250,000; a significant amount of jewellery; and a small amount of white powder suspected to be border-controlled drugs.

More than $2 million in suspected tainted assets were also seized during the search warrants.

Four men and one woman were arrested for their alleged involvement in the criminal syndicate.

All were refused police bail and appeared in Central Local Court yesterday.

Among those charged was a 32-year-old Monterey man.

He was charged with cause a loss to the NDIA of $6800 contrary to Section 135.1 of the Criminal Code (Cth); and attempt to cause a loss to the NDIA, totalling $60,346.75, contrary to section 135.1 by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code (Cth).

Operation Pegasus identified three NDIS providers who had allegedly been making fraudulent NDIS claims. They were a 34-year-old Lidcombe man and 30-year-old Lidcombe woman, known as Company 1; and the 32-year-old Monterey man, Company 2.

Police allege these people were known to each other.

Investigations are continuing, and Australian Federal Police Commander Kirsty Schofield said further arrests were anticipated.

"Money is the key driver for this alleged fraud syndicate," she said.

"Millions of dollars have allegedly been stolen by this criminal syndicate. Funds that have allegedly been spent on flashy vehicles when they could have been redirected to help other NDIS participants, like your mother, grandfather, sister or neighbour.

"AFP investigators and forensic specialists are continuing to examine the evidence and work closely with the NDIA to identify any further alleged offending."

NDIA chief risk officer Mel Woodburn said it remained committed to preventing and detecting fraud against the NDIS.

"The NDIA is monitoring this type of behaviour and we continue our investment in intelligence, data analytics and other compliance measures to build our capability to detect and respond to fraud," she said.

"Fraud is a crime and the agency will not tolerate the misuse of funds.

"One dollar fraudulently obtained is one dollar that isn't received by those for whom it was intended - our participants.

"Anyone with information about suspected fraud involving the NDIS should contact the Fraud Reporting Hotline on 1800 650 717."