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Counter fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Australian Government continues to focus on safeguarding the COVID-19 economic stimulus measures from fraud and make sure help and support goes to those who need it.

Fraud will not be tolerated. In the current crisis, every dollar counts. Every dollar lost to fraud is a dollar that does not support our healthcare system or keep an Australian in a job.

Australian Government entities are working together to identify and disrupt individuals and organised crime groups who are trying to commit fraud against the measures.

Fraud vulnerability of COVID-19 measures

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis. Governments rapidly designed and implemented emergency response measures to deal with the unfolding crisis including targeted stimulus and support measures.

Sadly, fraudsters, criminals and scammers still actively seek to exploit people's fears and the government's efforts to implement broad based support measures. There have been numerous reports of different types of COVID-19 related frauds and scams – both internationally and domestically.

Fraud causes further suffering to victims, erodes the good will of the community and undermines confidence in the government's response. It also diverts money and support away from those who need it, including the most vulnerable in our society.

Government actions to counter fraud

Between March and June 2020, the Attorney-General's Department's Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) established a temporary Commonwealth COVID-19 Counter Fraud Taskforce under Operation Ashiba. The taskforce included a range of entities across the Commonwealth.

The taskforce aimed to tackle fraud against COVID-19 economic stimulus measures. It:

  • provided advice and guidance to Australian Government entities to build in countermeasures in policy, program and system design to counter fraud risks for the new COVID-19 economic stimulus measures
  • supported information and intelligence sharing across the Commonwealth and internationally to enable detection and disruption of fraud
  • equipped Australian Government entities with deterrence messaging to help build fraud awareness and prevention in government communications, and to explain the consequences of committing fraud into their communications.

Commonwealth entities can contact us to find out more about how the taskforce can help.

Fraud is a criminal offence and is taken seriously. You can find out about recent fraud investigations and disruption on the AFP website and AFP Facebook page.

If you see something, say something

Help safeguard the COVID-19 measures by reporting suspicious activity or suspected fraud. This will make sure help is going to those Australians that need it rather than to those who are dishonestly seeking to gain at the expense of others.

You can also report fraud and access support if you have been a victim of fraud, identity theft or scams.

Emergency response measures for entities

When designing emergency response measures entities should:

  • get expert advice and assess your fraud risks
  • implement fraud countermeasures to help prevent, detect and respond to fraud
  • authenticate the identity of those you are supporting
  • use established processes and relationships, rather than setting up new ones
  • collect and retain clear records of claims and payments
  • conduct post payment assurance and compliance activities to recover fraud losses
  • assess and mitigate fraud risks when designing and delivering programs
  • train staff to be aware of what fraud is or what to do if they suspect it
  • check that service providers are following the rules
  • verify information or evidence received to support claims
  • have central oversight over program processes and delivery
  • share or match information between Commonwealth, state, territory and local entities
  • collect enough information to support proactive compliance and intelligence sharing
  • coordinate and fast track the response to potential fraud.

Contact the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre

Visit the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre website to submit a contact us form.