‘Brazen scam’: NDIS fraud accused to seek bail
TWO brothers, their sister and her partner accused of participating in an organised family crime syndicate to steal from 70 disabled Australians to allegedly fund a lavish lifestyle will apply for bail.
Alaedine Rifai, 40, also known as Alan Rifai, who is the director of kitchen joinery business Universal Group Australia, is charged along with his partner, Amal Hilmi, 35.
Her two brothers Mostafa Hilmi, 30, and Alhassane Hilmi, 27, who is the registered business name holder of Reliance Disability Services, are also charged.
All four were arrested after Australian Federal Poice seized luxury cars including a Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and Mercedes E63 and other goods in a sting, which alleges they defrauded the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) of $1.1m.
Australian Federal Police allege three companies made fraudulent claims from more than 70 people on NDIS disability plans or the people managing their affairs.
Represented by three lawyers, the four accused requested to apply for bail on Friday but the release applications have been set down for June 4.
Alaedine Rifai is charged with dishonestly intent to obtain a gain and possess suspected proceeds of crime, money or property of $100,000 or more between December 2017 and December 2018 at Heckenberg.
Amal Hilmi is charged with dishonestly intend to obtain a gain, and possess suspected proceeds of crime, money or property of $100,000 or more at Lurnea between December 2017 and December 2018.
Mostafa Hilmi is charged with dishonestly intend to obtain a gain and receive suspected proceeds of crime, money or property of $100,000 or more between May 2017 and May 2019 at Liverpool.
Alhassane Hilmi is charged with dishonestly intent to obtain a gain and possess suspected proceeds of crime, money or property of $100,000 or more at Liverpool between May 2017 and May 2019.
Police have made other arrests and more people are expected to be charged.
The arrests in western Sydney follow what has been dubbed a "brazen scam" by the alleged crime syndicate.
The AFP swooped on four residences in the western Sydney suburbs of Lurnea and Liverpool early on Wednesday morning.
A 22-year-old woman will also be issued a court attendance notice.
If the accused were found guilty of the alleged offences they could be imprisoned for between 12 months and up to ten years.
"Taskforce investigators will allege in court that three registered NDIS providers controlled and exploited by those arrested today fraudulently claimed more than $1.1 million in NDIS payments from more than 70 people on disability plans, or those managing their affairs," an AFP statement read.
Police allege three entities - Universal Group Australia Pty Ltd, Reliance Disability Services and United Mission - received more than $2.6 million in NDIS payments since December 2017.
Further inquiries are required to determine whether these payments are legitimate or fraudulent.
"This is an organised criminal activity preying on those that society has chosen to help - it took money directly out of the pockets of NDIS participants, reducing their ability to obtain crucial assistance and services to help them lead their lives," AFP Acting Commander Mark McIntyre, Manager Criminal Assets and Fraud and Anti-Corruption alleged in a statement.
"Unfortunately this is not an isolated case, and we will continue to work with our taskforce partners to identify those preying on our needy and bring them to account for their selfish and despicable actions."
Acting CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS), Vicki Rundle, said the NDIS Fraud Taskforce was a partnership with a focus on high-risk and serious criminal activity targeting the NDIS.
"The NDIA is committed to working with families impacted by alleged fraud and ensuring they have their funds reinstated in their plans where appropriate," Ms Rundle said.
"We want to make it clear that fraud of the NDIS will not be tolerated. The NDIA takes the matter of fraud very seriously and will continue to invest in our capability to continue to identify attempts to defraud the scheme."