Tuesday, May 21, 2024

NDIS fraud taskforce call for victims

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Fraud Taskforce is reaching out to potential victims as part of an investigation into large-scale fraud allegedly committed by a Western Sydney healthcare practitioner.

The NDIS Fraud Taskforce investigation – codenamed Operation Pavo – comprises the Australian Federal Police (AFP), National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and Services Australia.

Operation Pavo investigators are looking into complaints a Sydney healthcare practitioner falsified reports, overcharged for services and used the allotted NDIS funding neglecting the best interests of their client needs under the scheme.

Authorities have calculated the current fraud value to be more than $120,000. However, it is believed this will increase as the investigation continues and the full extent of offending is known.

As part of the investigation, two search warrants were executed in the Sydney suburbs of Auburn and Granville yesterday by more than 20 members from the AFP, NDIA and Services Australia, who seized materials to further assist investigations.

AFP Superintendent, Mel Phelan said the alleged illegal conduct appears to be an attempt to take advantage of people from largely culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“The AFP and our partners have serious concerns about any attempts to defraud some of our most vulnerable community members,” Supt Phelan said. 

“To people who may seek to take advantage of the NDIS, let this be a warning that you are up against the collective expertise and resources of our agencies. Your hunger for short-term profit will result in long-term negative consequences for you.”

The NDIA said it was working with participants to reassure them their plans would not be affected and to ensure they were continuing to receive their disability-related supports.

“The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has a zero tolerance to fraud and will not tolerate the misuse of funds intended to support people with disability,” the NDIA’s Branch Manager of Scheme Integrity, Scott Britton said.

“We are working with participants to ensure their plans are protected. The Agency will reimburse any lost funds to any affected participants as quickly as possible.

“Any participant with suspicions they might have been the target of fraud activity should contact the NDIS fraud hotline.

“Fraud is a crime, and you can help authorities stamp out NDIS fraud.”

He said the NDIA had a number of controls in place to protect the NDIS and participants from exploitation through fraud such as detection, prevention and investigation activities, fraud risk assessments and fraud awareness training.

Operation Pavo is an NDIS Taskforce investigation supported by the AFP-led Taskforce Iris, which was established earlier this year to target the threat of fraud against the Government’s financial support provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Reports of other suspected criminal activity, including fraud against other government support measures, can be made by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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