Many Australians are struggling to get back on their feet after the most recent bout of flooding to hit New South Wales.
But to those who are thinking of rorting the system, think again.
Also read: How to claim the $1,000 flood relief payment
Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten told Yahoo Finance the vast majority of people claiming the AGDRP and the DRA were honest and in urgent need of help.
“However, there are people who try to take advantage of this support by committing fraud, which is about the lowest of low behaviour,” Shorten said.
“Giving false or misleading information to claim a payment you aren’t eligible for is a form of fraud. The Albanese Government will do what is necessary to stop this despicable behaviour.”
Shorten warned Aussies thinking of defrauding the Government that Services Australia had a sophisticated fraud-detection method in place.
“Intelligence and investigation capabilities mean if you are fraudulently claiming disaster payments, you will be caught and may be prosecuted,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Government had so far spent $514 million on disaster payments.
“I make this point: we're making the payments, we're not holding them up in order to audit in advance,” Albanese said.
“But we will be auditing in retrospect as well. So only people who are eligible for these payments should apply for these payments.”
What’s the punishment?
No punishment is the same and will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and will be at the discretion of a judge, but repaying the fraudulently acquired money is at the top of the list.
One person in NSW was also sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to repay $20,342 after using stolen identities to fraudulently claim AGDRP payments for the NSW bushfires in September 2019.
Another NSW person was sentenced to a Community Corrections Order for 27 months and fined $5,000 after also fraudulently claiming AGDRP for the 2019 fires.
Another NSW person was sentenced to a Community Corrections Order for two years and fined $1,700 after fraudulently claiming AGDRP for the fires.
They provided false statements to claim for them and their two children for a property they did not reside in and did not sustain damage.