Daycare scam ‘more disciplined’ than bikies
Police bosses have lashed a multimillion-dollar childcare fraud syndicate, and warned the perpetrators were even more organised than criminal bikies.
NSW Police initially charged 17 people in May over alleged involvement in a fake business called Red Roses Family Day Care.
Police allege the illegitimate company raked in at least $3.9 million in rebates over a 10-month period by exploiting the Federal Government's child care subsidy scheme.
The company's director alone pocketed $30,000 a fortnight, police said in May.
At the time, police revealed 150 parents - who had claimed they had between three and seven children in care - allegedly claimed the government rebates.
It's alleged parents and carers handed over their children's details, including their Centrelink Customer Reference Number, to the operators of the fake day care in exchange for cash - but the children never attended the centre.
Red Roses Family Day Care looked like a legitimate business operating out of multiple sites in Sydney and Wollongong - but the entire operation was allegedly nothing but a fraud.
Yesterday, a further 22 people were charged in relation to the syndicate, with many being held in custody across Sydney's southwest.
"They had accountants, they had facilitators, and then they had a number of carers underneath which were allegedly caring for kids that were never cared for," Acting Commander Smith said during a press conference yesterday afternoon.
"(The syndicate) was disciplined - it was more disciplined than outlaw motorcycles gangs in terms of their structure."
He said more arrests were likely, and that up to 100 childcare fraud syndicates were now operating across Sydney - costing taxpayers up to $750 million a year.
"Investigators have now charged 39 people involved in this syndicate and more arrests are expected," Mr Smith told reporters.
"Our objective is to completely dismantle the business model which we know is being used by at least 100 other syndicates with an estimated potential value of the fraud across Sydney at least $750 million per year."
NSW Police Minister David Elliot almost said many of the people who had been charged were parents with no prior record.
"There is no lower act than somebody taking money fraudulently from the taxpayers of this state that should have been going towards the education and welfare of our children," he said.
"I suspect that the community of NSW will see these arrests today and be rightfully very upset. I am extremely upset and disappointed and indeed disgusted."
Police also released dramatic footage of one of the arrests, which showed one woman hurling expletive-laden abuse at officers.
"Get that away from my face," the woman yells, giving the middle finger to a cameraman as she is taken into Bankstown police station.
"You're going to get my finger up your f***ing ass, you f***ing w**ker, f**k off."
The woman was arrested in Greenacre on Tuesday by detectives from Strike Force Mercury.
Detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad and Organised Crime Squad established the strike force in July last year to investigate the co-ordinated fraudulent activities targeting family day care operations.
Yesterday's arrest blitz included 16 women - aged 30, 32, 33, 34, 38, 46, 47, 51, two aged 28, two aged 31, two aged 39 and two aged 40.
They were all taken to local police stations, where 14 of the women were charged with participate in a criminal group, police said in a statement.
They have all been granted conditional bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court on Monday, September 30.
Joint investigations under Strike Force Mercury are ongoing.