The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Fraud Taskforce has raided several premises as part of an investigation into large-scale fraud allegedly committed by a western Sydney healthcare practitioner.
AFP said last week, the NDIS Fraud Taskforce investigation – codenamed Operation Pavo, comprising the Australian Federal Police (AFP), National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and Services Australia, was reaching out to potential victims.
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.
Operation Pavo investigators were 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.
The current fraud’s value is said to be more than $120,000. But that was believed to increase as the investigation continued and the full extent of the offense became known.
As part of the investigation, two search warrants were executed on August 26 in the Sydney suburbs of Auburn and Granville by more than 20 members from the taskforce, who seized materials to further help investigations. Charges against the healthcare practitioner were being considered.
AFP Superintendent Mel Phelan said the alleged illegal conduct appeared 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,” he 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.”
NDIA has several controls to protect the NDIS and participants from exploitation through fraud such as detection, prevention and investigation activities, fraud risk assessments and fraud awareness training.