Australia: Criminal syndicate allegedly steals millions to fund 'lavish lifestyle' - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaCriminal syndicate allegedly steals millions to fund 'lavish lifestyle'

15:52  22 may  2019
15:52  22 may  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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More than 70 people on disability plans have been defrauded by an organised crime syndicate accused of stealing millions of dollars in funds from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, all to fund a "lavish lifestyle."

Three men and two women were arrested and charged after raids across western Sydney on Wednesday morning, over allegedly claiming more than $1.1 million in fraudulent NDIS payments from people on disability plans, or those managing them.

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The Clerkenwell crime syndicate , also known as the Adams Family or the A-team, is an English criminal organisation, allegedly one of the most powerful in the United Kingdom.

Criminal syndicate allegedly steals millions to fund 'lavish lifestyle'© Facebook Alaedine Rifai, also known as Alan Rifai, is the sole director and secretary of Universal Group Australia, a registered NDIS provider accused of defrauding the government scheme. The five were charged with fraud and proceeds of crime offences. They will appear at Central Local Court on Thursday. A sixth person was issued a summons to appear at court at a later date.

The group variously sat at the helm of three registered NDIS providers: Universal Group Australia Pty Ltd, Reliance Disability Services and United Mission.

Criminal syndicate allegedly steals millions to fund 'lavish lifestyle'© United Mission An image from the website of United Mission, one of three registered NDIS providers targeted by the six-month investigation for alleged fraud. The three organisations individually offered services such as nursing, cleaning, transport and home fit-outs to people supported by government-subsidised disability plans.

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Mr. Avenatti allegedly provided the bank with false federal tax returns. All of these acts were taken to support his lavish lifestyle which included a venture into a car racing company, a lifestyle which is IRS criminal investigation is a major contributor in the effort to combat financial institution fraud, and

Man, 19, 'ran a criminal syndicate selling cars stolen by the Apex gang and spent the money on Mr Taha allegedly used the money to support his extremely lavish lifestyle Mr Taha is also allegedly involved with a number of previous crimes A 19-year-old accused of being the leader of a criminal syndicate which sells stolen luxury

Among those charged was Lurnea man Alaedine Rifai, who also goes by the name Alan Rifai. As the sole director and secretary of kitchen joinery business Universal Group Australia, it is understood the 40-year-old allegedly sat at the helm of the syndicate.

Criminal syndicate allegedly steals millions to fund 'lavish lifestyle'© United Mission Services offered by United Mission include in-home personal care and shopping assistance.

A 35-year-old woman, believed to be Mr Rifai's partner, was also arrested and charged.

Also arrested was Alhassane Hilmi, 27, who is the registered business name holder of Reliance Disability Services, as well as his 30-year-old brother.

The discovery of the alleged syndicate was the culmination of a six-month investigation by the NDIS Fraud Taskforce, which includes the Australian Federal Police, the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Department of Human Services.

Police allege the group, as directors and employees of the three registered NDIS providers, lodged over-inflated invoices for services, falsely drawing from an individual's disability plan so that the person was unable to make further claims.

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Federal prosecutors allege Correia stole 1,447 from investors to fund a lavish lifestyle . He allegedly spent the money on designer clothes, a Mercedes-Benz, jewelry, his mayoral campaign, travel, student loan and credit card payments, casinos and adult entertainment.

Criminal syndicate allegedly steals millions to fund 'lavish lifestyle'© Facebook A kitchen fit-out by Universal Group Australia, as advertised on Facebook. In other examples services were either delivered in part only, or not at all.

It is understood individuals participating in the syndicate were at times making upwards of $50,000 a day.

Since December 2017 the three fraudulent providers are alleged to have received more than $2.6 million in NDIS payments.

It is estimated there could be more than 100 other possible victims who have been exploited by one of the three NDIS entities.

AFP Acting Commander Mark McIntyre said the abuse of the scheme was "abhorrent" and "actively and brazenly" targeted society's most vulnerable.

"There is a fraud here against the Commonwealth, but there is a direct impact on Australians living with a disability in the community," he said.

"And the sole aim was to steal funds designed to support the participants of the NDIS just to service their own lavish lifestyle."

A Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and a Mercedes E63 were among vehicles seized by the AFP.

The vehicles are suspected of being purchased with funds fraudulently obtained by members of the syndicate.

Acting chief executive of the National Disability Insurance Agency Vicki Rundle said they are committed to working with families impacted by alleged fraud.

"We want to make it clear that fraud of the NDIS will not be tolerated," she said, adding that all affected by fraud would have their funds reinstated to their plans where appropriate.

Investigations into the alleged syndicate are continuing.

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