Huge fake daycare ‘scam’ smashed
POLICE have charged 18 people in connection to an alleged criminal daycare syndicate.
The syndicate allegedly made claims using the federal government's childcare subsidy scheme to make claims for youngsters who didn't exist.
Other parents allegedly sold their children's identities to the scheme for money, according to reports.
Police began their investigation of the alleged fraudulent activities that targeted family daycare centres in July last year.
The syndicate had businesses that appeared to provide legitimate daycare, however police allege their investigations proved that to be false, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The criminal syndicate then allegedly made false benefits claims under the federal government's childcare subsidy schemes.
These benefits are supposed to be paid to daycare providers, with savings to be passed on as a benefit to families or carers.
Three men aged 24, 40 and 49, and 15 women aged between 21 and 44 were arrested on Wednesday after NSW Police raided 22 properties, including daycare centres in southwest Sydney through to the Illawarra region.
Several agencies, including the state and federal education departments and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, were involved in the 10-month investigation that led to the charges being laid.
During the investigation, police interviewed 18 people at local police stations, including three men and 15 women.
A source close to the investigation said the sophistication of the alleged fraud was at a level comparable to organised crime, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Department of Education and Training worked with police leading Strike Force Mercury during their investigation.