Gang allegedly stole $100K from super accounts
Three Queensland women allegedly linked to a sophisticated crime gang have been arrested over allegations they stole more than $100,000 from the superannuation accounts of hardworking Australians under a COVID-19 relief scheme.
Federal Police will allege the women worked together as part of a network, collecting identity data, to access the superannuation accounts of unsuspecting victims.
In a series of dramatic raids across southeast Queensland, an Australian Federal Police taskforce swooped on the women, who are accused of assuming the identities of everyday Australians to access the Early Release Superannuation program designed to provide financial relief for those facing financial hardships in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ERS is one of several measures introduced by the Federal Government that is now being targeted by fraudsters and crime gangs, with AFP Deputy Commissioner Brett Pointing vowing to hunt down offenders.
"Make no mistake - if you try to steal the nest eggs of hardworking Australians, we will find you and charge you," he said.
So far, almost all of the AFP's taskforce arrests have been women.
On Thursday, officers from the taskforce, in conjunction with the Queensland Police Service, the Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia, executed search warrants in Morayfield, Worongary, Balmoral, Eagleby and Burpengary, resulting in the arrest of three women.
Officers seized a number of items, including electronic devices that police will allege were instrumental in the commission of fraudulent activities.
All three women have faced court and will reappear next month charged with conspiring to dishonestly obtain or deal in financial information.
Deanne Pamela Brock, 41, faced Southport Magistrates Court on Friday, a day after a raid at a Worongary address. During the raid, a large quantity of chemicals used to produce illicit drugs was also discovered.
Brock, who was not at the address at the time of the raid, was later arrested and charged with conspiring to dishonestly obtain or deal in personal financial information and several drug offences. She was refused bail and will face court again on September 7.
On the same day, Lenore Jennifer Herlihy, 41, was granted bail by the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court and will reappear on September 2 on charges including conspiring to dishonestly obtain or deal in personal financial information. Jamie Renee Parker, 36, faces the same charges and will appear in Southport Magistrates Court on September 4.
Deputy Commissioner Pointing said the AFP and partner agencies were committed to identifying and prosecuting anyone who tried to exploit the system for their own greed.
"The AFP works around the clock to disrupt and charge offenders who are defrauding the public," he said. "These arrests are a timely reminder for Australians to make sure their personal financial details are secure - don't be an easy target for criminals."
Taskforce Iris was established in April with a charter to target criminals attempting to defraud the government's COVID-19 stimulus measures, such as the ERS, JobKeeper and JobSeeker initiatives.
In one case, a Sydney man was arrested after allegedly submitting almost 70 false claims for benefits through JobSeeker and the Disaster Recovery Program for bushfire victims.