Three men have been charged over a major fraud scheme believed to have taken millions from individuals and government agencies.
Following a year-long joint investigation with Australia Post, the federal police arrested two co-directors of a Melbourne training providers and an associate.
It’s alleged all three have been falsely enrolling international and domestic students, creating fraudulent documents and then having them work as contractors for labour-hire businesses they owned, the Department of Immigration said in a statement.
Instead of attending tuition, they worked as delivery drivers for Australia Post.
Operation Aristotle, coordinated by the AFP, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Skills Quality Authority, also seized $8.5 million worth of assets, alleged to have been derived from the proceeds of crime.
They include bank accounts, a 2014 Ferrari and six properties in the suburbs of Balwyn, Lalor, Epping, Preston and Tarneit.
Police also seized a 2015 Range Rover, expensive watches, jewellery and $180,000 worth of cash.
The investigation began after information was received about the validity of national police check certificates.
Following enquiries, police established they were false and identified a 34-year-old Balwyn man and a 37-year-old Epping man.
Both are co-directors of a registered training provider.
Thirty search warrants were executed resulting in the arrest of both men, as well as a 42-year-old Tarneit man, the director of a second provider.
It’s estimated they’ve charged more than $9 million in fees from international students as well as fraudulently pocketing about $2 million in government funding.
“In this case, the men involved have created an elaborate plan and defrauded millions of dollars in government funding and from students in vulnerable circumstances,” AFP Manager of Crime Operations Paul Osborne said.
The department said enquires are continuing and further charges have not been ruled out.