How criminal syndicates use a devious method to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the NDIS
- Criminals who bribe people to join the NDIS
- Taskforce assesses $300 million disbursed
- Evidence of payments for services not performed
Criminal syndicates target the National Disability Insurance Scheme, wasting the system hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money.
The NDIS Fraud Merger Task Force, which was established in October, is currently reviewing $300 million in suspicious payments.
It marks a massive $50 million increase in the space of three months with 1,700 tips received by the task force in just one month.
Among the 38 ongoing investigations are allegations that crime syndicates are using cash vouchers and gifts to get Australians to sign up for the scheme by faking medical evidence and diagnosing disability.
A task force set up to investigate fraud in the National Disability Insurance Scheme has increased the number of suspicious payments by $50 million in just three months (stock image pictured)
Some have been encouraged to use NDIS funds to pay for vacations and luxury lifestyle items.
Other alleged fraud includes money paid for services that are never provided or for which the recipient should not be eligible.
NDIS Secretary Bill Shorten has vowed to crack down on the misuse of money meant to help the most vulnerable.
“Every tip will be analyzed,” he told the The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We encourage people to continue to support us in our efforts to eradicate untrustworthy behavior.”
Mr. Shorten is expected to announce a number of mushrooming changes to the scheme on Tuesday ahead of the federal budget next month.
He accused the previous Morison administration of leaving the “back door open for criminals.”
In August, it was alleged that the infamous Hamzy network, which operates in western Sydney, was one of the groups that swindled the NDIS.
Members allegedly used violence to extort mentally disabled people.
A disabled person was threatened with a knife, another family received death threats from standover traffickers trying to steal their NDIS rights.
In another case, there was an allegation that someone was being threatened with admission to a psychiatric ward unless he helped criminals disrupt the system.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief Michael Phelan said at the time that an estimated 15 to 20 percent of the nearly $30 billion annual NDIS budget may have been misused.
Last year’s federal budget established the $126.3 million NDIS anti-fraud task force, which includes the federal police, the tax office and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The NDIS was enshrined in law in 2012 and became fully operational in 2020 to fund disability care costs.
NDIS Secretary Bill Shorten (pictured) has vowed to crack down on the millions stolen from the scheme
Bursts have made the NDIS the second-largest area of federal government spending and the fastest-growing program
More than 500,000 Australians have enrolled in the program and more than 280,000 have recently joined.
This has led to rising costs that make it the second-largest federal expenditure, after elder care, and the fastest-growing program.
Total disability expenditures were expected to increase 9.6 percent between 2022-23 and 2025-26, as costs for each individual on the NDIS increased by 18.6 percent.
The scheme, designed when Labor was last in government more than a decade ago, was expected to cost $166.6 billion over four years, but it ended up being an underestimation of $8.8 billion.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers told parliament last May that the government wanted to make the NDIS sustainable.
“We are choosing dignity for Australians with disabilities,” he said.
“This budget starts with repairing the NDIS and securing the future.”