NT travel agency rort travels to Darwin
Travel agency Helloworld raided by Northern Territory Police as part of ongoing fraud investigation
From the NT News, 13th March 2016
POLICE raided Darwin travel agency Helloworld on Saturday afternoon – the latest in a string of agencies under investigation over the Pensioner Travel Concession Scheme.
Sources close to the investigation confirmed police raided the family-owned agency on Smith St, which was previously known as Harvey World Travel Darwin.
The agency has been in business for 24 years.
Detective Superintendent Travis Wurst said police seized documents and electronic information in the 1pm raid.
“No arrests have been made and our investigations are ongoing,” he said … “ we’ll conduct our investigation and determine if any criminality has taken place.”
The raid follows the successful prosecution of Latitude Travel managing director Xana Kamitsis and Friday’s guilty plea by Katherine agent Tennille Foley.
Kamitsis is serving jail time for defrauding the scheme of more than $100,000, and Foley pleaded guilty to defrauding the scheme of more than $40,000.
Supt Wurst could not say whether investigators expected charges to follow shortly, as they did with Foley, or if the investigation would take longer, as in the case of Kamitsis.
“It will take time for us to analyse all the information, we will provide a brief to the Director of Public Prosecution to determine whether there’s any criminality,” he said.
“All fraud matters are complex and protracted.”
He was unable to say how many staff or employees of Helloworld were suspected of unlawful behaviour.
The police raid was sparked by a referral from the taskforce setup between NT Police, the Health Department, Treasury and the Solicitor for the Northern Territory.
“Information was collected through the Department of Health … it was determined there may be some anomalies that can’t be explained … those matters are referred to police for further investigation,” Supt Wurst said.
Helloworld staff and management were said to have co-operated fully with police during the raid.
Calls to Helloworld Darwin manager Rachel Turner went unanswered.
Two businesses in Alice Springs were also raided last month in connection with the police investigation into the scheme.
A TERRITORY travel agent has admitted deliberately defrauding a NT Government pensioner travel scheme of more than $40,000.
Travel World Katherine boss Tennille Kim Foley, 38, has been co-operating with police in their investigations into other travel agencies suspected of rorting the health department pensioner carer concession scheme since she was charged last month, Darwin Magistrates Court has heard.
Prosecutor David Morters said Foley had abused the scheme while carrying out her government contract to submit applications for concessions for eligible clients.
He said she overstated the cost on invoices for at least 69 of 88 applications and received total benefits of $40,514, not including a 10 per cent commission.
“She told police she was introduced to the practice of inflating invoices to the NT Government while working at another travel agency,” he told Magistrate Michael Carey, adding that Foley was helping police with investigations and agreed to give evidence against others allegedly involved in rorting the concession scheme.
Defence lawyer Peter Maley sought a six week adjournment for his client to be assessed for home detention.
Mr Morters said: “We don’t oppose the application but we’re not conceding it’s an appropriate disposition.”
Latitude Travel boss Xana Kamitsis, the first person charged over ripping off the scheme, is serving a prison sentence after being found guilty at trial of a number of offences in the NT Supreme Court.
Foley was put on $500 bail and will appear in court again in May.