Detectives arrest a man at Georges Hall. Picture: NSW Police
Detectives arrest a man at Georges Hall. Picture: NSW Police

Day care centre ‘swindled’ millions for phantom kids

EXCLUSIVE: Red Roses Family Day Care promised parents it was a "safe, nurturing and loving" environment for your child.

But police allege the childcare company made fraudulent claims worth millions of dollars from the federal government's Child Care Subsidy scheme.

Officers arrested 15 women and three men yesterday following a year-long investigation by a specialist strike force made up of NSW Police's Financial Crimes and Organised Crime Squads and the Federal Department of Education and Training.

 

Zina Mohammad leaving Liverpool Court House on bail on Wednesday after being arrested over an alleged child care fraud syndicate. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Zina Mohammad leaving Liverpool Court House on bail on Wednesday after being arrested over an alleged child care fraud syndicate. Picture: Jonathan Ng

They raided 22 homes and businesses at Chester Hill, Greenacre, Bass Hill and across the Illawarra.

Police raided homes across southwest Sydney. Picture: John Grainger
Police raided homes across southwest Sydney. Picture: John Grainger

The alleged kingpin of the scam, Red Roses director Alee Farmann, was arrested at his Georges Hall home and charged with directing a criminal group.

At Sadlier, Zina Salman Moh­ammad, 44, was arrested and charged with knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group.

One of the raided homes. Picture: John Grainger
One of the raided homes. Picture: John Grainger

It is understood police will ­all­ege the $5 million scheme worked by the centres claiming federal subsidies for phantom children who did not exist or by registering children who never attended day care.

The investigation into the alleged scam started in July last year.

Police confirmed in a statement officers "will allege in court that the syndicate fraudulently claimed for Commonwealth benefits under the Child Care Subsidy schemes".

Police make an arrest at Georges Hall. Picture: NSW Police
Police make an arrest at Georges Hall. Picture: NSW Police

The Federal Department of Education and Training provides the subsidies directly to child care providers that should be passed on to families as a fee ­reduction.

Farmann's neighbours said they were woken by police storming the luxury home.

"He seemed like a nice bloke … he had some really nice cars," one neighbour said.

At Arcadia St, Chester Hill, detectives spent hours combing a tiny fibro cottage, where a sign at the door said "Welcome to Red Roses Family Day Care".

The major fraud investigation was codenamed Strike Force Mercury. Picture: John Grainger
The major fraud investigation was codenamed Strike Force Mercury. Picture: John Grainger

In Liverpool Local Court yesterday, Mohammad wiped away tears as she was granted bail.

She was earlier denied bail by police at Liverpool Police Station, with documents stating "the ­accused is not employed, however maintains she is involved in child care business of Red Roses".

Police said the offences Mohammad allegedly committed were of a "very serious nature to the Commonwealth, disrupting the community by illegally using ­public moneys".

"The prosecution has a strong case involving telephone interception devices supporting the ­offence. The accused has shown no remorse towards the community as a victim," police bail documents stated.

The raids began at 6am this morning. Picture: John Grainger
The raids began at 6am this morning. Picture: John Grainger

 

A police officer takes away evidence. Picture: John Grainger
A police officer takes away evidence. Picture: John Grainger

Court documents allege Mohammad "did knowingly participate in a criminal group, Red Roses Family Day Care Pty Ltd by directing activities of the organised and ongoing criminal group".

Mohammad's case was adjourned to July 8, while Farmann, who was granted bail by police, will face court later this month.

Red Rose Family Day Care states it provides "high quality, flexible home care options".

Eighteen people arrested in the sweeping raids. Picture: John Grainger
Eighteen people arrested in the sweeping raids. Picture: John Grainger
Multiple properties were raided. Picture: John Grainger
Multiple properties were raided. Picture: John Grainger