More than 27,000 cases of possible false claims for disaster relief funds reserved have been picked up by the Federal Government in the last six months. Claims spiked following the devastating floods in NSW and south-east Queensland and the high numbers resulted in nearly 800 investigations into alleged fraudulent activity
Per The Sydney Morning Herald, Government Services Minister Bill Shorten condemned those falsely trying to claim disaster relief cash as “scumbags”.
“It’s despicable conduct and the people doing it are scumbags,” he said.
“The high number of claims that have been triggered as potentially fraudulent is alarming.
“Services Australia is working around the clock to investigate these claims, and people who defraud taxpayers will be caught and face charges.”
Investigations into these claims suspended around $10.5 million worth of payments due to possibly fake applicants.
Apparently the time and effort it takes to comb through claims to find alleged fraudsters is taking resources away from “more positive activities” Services Australia could be doing for struggling Aussies, including getting disaster relief funds into the hands of people that actually need it.
Around 3.5 million claims have been lodged relating to the NSW and Queensland floods so far. The bill for that disaster alone is about $4.3 billion and has become the fourth most expensive natural disaster in the country’s recorded history.
It’s not just the recent floods that have brought scammers out of the woodwork.
The 2019 Black Summer fires in NSW and Victoria resulted in several people convicted for fraudulent claims. This included one woman who used 42 stolen identities and a further 31 made-up ones to claim relief funds. She was caught after opening 42 separate accounts at multiple banks, sentenced to 26 months in prison and had to pay back a whopping $86,674 in March this year.