AUSTRAC and Services Australia partner up to target emergency and disaster payments fraud

A new financial crime guide released today will help financial services businesses detect and report suspicious transactions indicative of fraud and misuse of emergency and disaster payments administered through Services Australia.

In 2020-21, Services Australia delivered $230.1 billion in social support payments, including approximately $21.5 billion in disaster payments to people affected by COVID-19, floods, fires and cyclones.

The majority of people claiming disaster assistance are in genuine need of urgent help. Unfortunately, a small number of individuals and groups try to get payments they are not entitled to by committing fraud, often enabled by stealing the identities of vulnerable Australians.

AUSTRAC working together with Services Australia and its other Fintel Alliance members has developed this guide to help identify and disrupt individuals and organised crime groups seeking to commit fraud against emergency or disaster relief payments.

Services Australia General Manager Hank Jongen said the agency continues to support Australians in need when emergencies hit.

“We take fraud very seriously and thoroughly investigate all suspicious claim activity,” Mr Jongen said.

“Taking advantage of payments that help people get back on their feet during a disaster is a particularly low act.”

AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose PSM said that the financial sector has an important role to play in helping to prevent fraud and misuse of taxpayer funds.

“The misuse of taxpayer funds denies people in genuine need access to money to meet their most basic needs such as food, shelter and other necessities.” she said.

Indicators of financial transactions being used for potential fraud include emergency or disaster payments being transferred into known suspicious or blacklisted accounts, or an account with limited or no genuine/everyday transactional activity receiving emergency or disaster payments.

The financial crime guide helps financial services businesses identify the misuse of taxpayer funds and understand when to submit a suspicious matter report to AUSTRAC.

Download the guide

Financial crime guide – Preventing the Exploitation of Emergency and Disaster Support Payments

Media contact

Allison Roesler-Vannan
Senior Director Strategic Communications and Media Operations

Phone: 02 9950 0488