News Crime NSW trio face combined 57 fraud charges
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NSW trio face combined 57 fraud charges

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NSW is the only state where aspiring cops could spend up to $17,000 to join the force. Photo: AAP
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Three men have been charged with a combined 57 fraud offences after allegedly claiming more than $1.3 million in NSW disaster and COVID-19 relief payments.

An investigation began five months ago into fraudulent applications made against the NSW government financial schemes.

Strike force investigators uncovered an alleged criminal syndicate involved in numerous fraudulent claims for the support payments.

On Thursday, NSW Police executed three search warrants at homes at Auburn, Chester Hill and Carramar in Sydney’s west.

During the searches they seized cash, electronic devices and documents.

Three men – aged 48, 34 and 30 – were arrested during the operation and later charged.

“Investigators are still examining significant amounts of information and applications and we suspect additional charges will be laid as further frauds are discovered and linked to this group,” financial crimes squad commander, Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, said on Friday.

Service NSW executive director of risk, strategy and performance Catherine Ellis said the agency was continually strengthening its fraud prevention and detection systems.

“It is incredibly disappointing that deliberate, coordinated fraudsters have undermined the systems put in place to support the businesses of NSW in one of the most challenging times we have faced,” she said.

The 48-year-old man was charged with 22 offences. They include knowingly directing the activities of criminal group, dealing with identity information to commit an indictable offence and dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Police will allege in court the man coordinated the syndicate and instructed others to submit fraudulent claims using stolen or borrowed identities.

It will be further alleged he received the majority share of the fraudulently obtained payments.

The 34-year-old man was charged with 17 offences and the 30-year-old man was charged with 18 offences.

Their charges included participating in a criminal group, deal with identity information to commit an indictable offence and dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.

Police will allege in court the pair sourced personal identity information and bank details for the purpose of submitting fraudulent claims against the COVID-19 micro-business grant and the small business fees and charges rebate.

All three men were refused bail to appear at Bankstown Local Court on Friday.