Wednesday morning was a very active morning for the North Shore Police Command. Search Warrants were executed in Lane Cove for a scam involving family daycare operations and another was executed by the police and Australian Border Force for the illegal importation of firearms.
Strike Force Mercury – Family Day Care Operations
In July 2018, detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad and Organised Crime Squad, along with the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), established Strike Force Mercury to investigate the coordinated fraudulent activities targeting family daycare operations.
Family daycare is approved child care that is conducted in an educator’s own home.
As part of ongoing investigations, police received information that a criminal syndicate, allegedly directed by a 46-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man, was operating a sophisticated scam and received up to $500,000 in government payments between March and October this year.
On 21 October 2020 at 6.00 am, Strike Force Mercury detectives executed 34 search warrants at 18 properties and on vehicles across Sydney, including Lane Cove, Blair Athol, Bossley Park, Canley Heights, Edensor Park, Elizabeth Hills, Fairfield, Green Valley, Greenfield Park, Guildford, Merrylands and Smithfield.
The police executed a search warrant on a private home in Lane Cove. A 37-year-old Lane Cove man was arrested and charged for his alleged roles in the scam. He was charged with two counts of dishonestly intent to cause a loss (i.e doing something that results in a loss or risk of a loss to a Commonwealth organisation.)
He has been granted conditional bail to appear at Hornsby Local Court on 9 December 2020.
He was one of 11 people who were arrested and charged for their alleged roles in the scam, including seven women – a 45-year-old, 40-year-old, two 30-year-olds, two 29-year-olds, and a 28-year-old – and three more men, 34-year-old, 29-year-old and a 26-year-old.
It will be alleged in court that the government funds that were fraudulently acquired by the scam operators include $138,000 from the COVID-19 stimulus package to support the childcare sector and ongoing fraud from the childcare subsidy program.
Inquiries under Strike Force Mercury are continuing.
Below is the police video of the search warrant raid and the subsequent arrest of one of the scam leaders in Guildford.
Importation of Firearms – Read this article for more information
A 56-year-old Australian citizen has been charged by Australian Border Force (ABF) investigators for the alleged importation of firearm parts.
Investigations began after ABF officers at the Melbourne Gateway Facility located a silencer and other firearm parts in a consignment from the Netherlands in April. A second package addressed to the same man was detected at the Sydney Gateway Facility in May. The consignment contained a semi-automatic handgun frame.
On Wednesday 21 October 2020, ABF investigators executed warrants at premises in Wollstonecraft and Lane Cove, with the assistance of the NSW Police Force.
During the warrants, a number of items were seized including an unregistered firearm, a silencer, a firearm grip, extendable batons and electronic devices.
A 56-year-old man was arrested at Wollstonecraft and taken to Chatswood Police Station where he was charged with two counts of importing prohibited Tier 2 goods without approval, contrary to section 233BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901. The maximum penalty if convicted is up to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or fines of up to 555,000.
Detectives from North Shore Police Area Command charged the man with possessing an unauthorised pistol, possess a barrel without the authority of licence/permit, and possess ammunition without holding licence/permit/authority.
He has been refused bail to appear at Manly Local Court today (Thursday 22 October 2020).
ABF Regional Investigations NSW Superintendent Garry Low said targeting illegal firearm imports is a priority for the ABF.
“Every day, ABF officers at Australia’s airports, seaports and mail centres are on the lookout for the illegal importation of firearms and other prohibited weapons,” Superintendent Low said.
“In the wrong hands, these weapons could be deadly, so when we detect them at the border we will seize them and where appropriate prosecute those trying to bring them in illegally.”
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