Media release: New Digital Forensics Lab launched in Brisbane to tackle organised crime and serious fraud in welfare
The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert, today launched a state-of-the-art digital forensics laboratory, located in Brisbane, designed to assist efforts to disrupt organised criminal activity in Australia’s welfare system.
The Department of Human Services laboratory provides a scientific, technically advanced and secure facility to analyse digital evidence to aid in criminal fraud investigations.
The lab is the second of its kind built by the department, with the first being launched in Canberra in 2015.
Minister Robert said the lab shows how the department is excelling in developing state of the art capabilities to target serious and organised crime.
‘The department places great emphasis on protecting the integrity of taxpayer money through strong safeguards of the Centrelink and Medicare programs,’ Minister Robert said.
‘Fraud has become increasingly complex, with fraudsters exploiting technological advances to commit crimes.’
The Brisbane laboratory will enhance the department’s capabilities to support other agencies in their efforts to tackle fraud, such as the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Australian Federal Police. It will also play a major role in the department’s own Taskforce Integrity operations.
‘The new facility will allow the department to continue to detect and disrupt organised crime activity, and to stop the exploitation of vulnerable customers and communities,’ Minister Robert said.
‘The Canberra digital forensics team has already successfully contributed to over 50 investigations and analysed hundreds of seized devices, leading to numerous positive prosecution outcomes.
‘This includes assisting the NDIS Fraud taskforce in the successful investigation of Mohammed Omar, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment in July for defrauding the National Disability Insurance Scheme of more than $400,000.
‘Advanced technology in the laboratory will allow investigators to obtain and deliver crucial evidence in investigations.
‘The Government is more serious than ever about stamping out welfare fraud, with close to 1,000 cases reviewed in just the past two months.’
Investigators analysed and investigated more than 3,300 cases of possible fraud across the Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support programs in 2018-19.
In one case a person was suspected of intentionally under-declaring their employment income. During the period of offending, the person earned approximately $160,000 in employment income however had only declared approximately $15,000 to the department. The person pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining a financial advantage. They were sentenced to imprisonment and were ordered to pay reparation of approximately $65,000.
When fraud is uncovered by the department, it may be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for prosecution.