As a result of a year and a half long investigation by Centrelink authorities, more than 160 welfare cheats have been identiified as being involved in money laundering scams. Officials say it is likely to be connected to organized crime syndicates as well as outlaw biker gangs.

In this type of money laundering scam, dirty money (acquired by illegal means) is used to buy casino gambling chips thereby cleaning the money. When unusually large chip purchases began to be noticed at casinos across Australia, Centrelink begain investigating. Officials can track either the dirty money or the chips when they are cashed in once they have identified suspicious activity.

Whether through the cashier or at the gaming tables, any transaction greater than $10,000 requires the proof of identification so large transactions are recorded and thus able to be tracked. Centrelink found 30 cheats who had converted over a million dollars each and the average chip purchase was $155, 000.

Two cases stand head and shoulders above the rest – an elderly pensioner who cashed in $1.5 million and a single mother who convered $1.3 million dollars in chips. Some of the dole recipients were found to have purchased luxurious penthouse apartments and had been enjoying frequent comps from the casinos such as free accomodations and trips.

All cases have been turned over to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal charges to be filed.

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