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Further seven charged following investigations into bushfire grant fraud - Raptor Squad

Sunday, 08 August 2021 06:03:03 AM

Raptor Squad investigators have charged a further seven people and seized a firearm, poker machine and luxury goods valued at $60,000, as part of ongoing inquiries into fraudulent bushfire and flood claims.

In August last year, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Raptor Squad established Strike Force Fireant to investigate outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG) members and associates allegedly involved in obtaining fraudulent funds through NSW Government grant schemes.

In December 2020, officers executed 11 search warrants across Greater Sydney and arrested nine people – six men and three women. All nine were charged and remain before the courts.

Following further inquiries, Raptor Squad investigators effected a second phase resolution of Strike Force Fireant, and executed six search warrants at homes at Beecroft, North Richmond, Seven Hills, Shalvey, Werrington County and Wilberforce from 6am on Thursday (5 August 2021).

During the searches, police seized a replica Glock pistol, a poker machine, more than $5000 cash, steroids and cannabis.

Officers also seized 126 pairs of designer shoes valued at $30,000, as well as luxury bags and accessories valued at a further $30,000.

Further items including multiple mobile phones, electronic storage devices and documentation were also seized. All items will undergo further examination.

During the operation seven people – six men and one woman – were arrested and taken to local police stations.

A 23-year-old Beecroft man – who is a Rebels OMCG associate – was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Hornsby Local Court on Wednesday 29 September 2021.

A 23-year-old North Richmond man – who is a Rebels OMCG associate – was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Windsor Local Court on Thursday 26 August 2021.

A 40-year-old North Richmond woman was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception and attempt to dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception. She was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Windsor Local Court on Thursday 26 August 2021.

A 30-year-old Shalvey man – who is a Rebels OMCG associate – was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Mt Druitt Local Court on Wednesday 25 August 2021.

A 27-year-old Werrington County man – who is a Rebels OMCG associate – was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

A 26-year-old Werrington County man was charged with possess unregistered firearm (pistol) and be in unauthorised possession of approved gaming machine.

Both men were granted strict conditional bail to appear at Penrith Local Court on Thursday 26 August 2021.

A 28-year-old Wilberforce man – who is a Rebels OMCG associate – was charged with dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, attempt to dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception and cultivate prohibited plant. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Windsor Local Court on Thursday 26 August 2021.

Raptor Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein, said investigators have conducted a significant and protracted investigation into the activities of these individuals.

“The state of NSW has endured an exceptionally difficult two years with the devastating effects of the bushfires, floods and the pandemic affecting everyone within our community,” Det Supt Weinstein said.

“Police will allege in court that these individuals used these situations to their advantage to defraud the government of thousands of dollars that should have gone to those in need.

“Raptor Squad will continue to target anyone in the community actively engaging in these types of criminal activity – particularly members and associates of outlaw motorcycle gangs that set out to break the law,” Det Supt Weinstein said.

Investigations under Strike Force Fireant are continuing.