Comcare hunts for compo fraud snoops

By Julian Bajkowski and Paul Hemsley

Comcare, the federal government agency responsible for workplace safety, rehabilitation and compensation is on the lookout for experienced insurance investigators to detect fraudsters trying to rort the compensation system.

The agency’s Fraud Response Unit (FRU) has issued a detailed tender notice for prospective private eyes as part of efforts to reduce bogus claims as the government attempts to stem revenue leakage.

The tender documents reveal a raft of stringent conditions that investigation and surveillance operatives providers must adhere to when establishing facts and providing reports back to Comcare on suspected fraud.

They include bans on investigators covertly recording audio conversations with electronic devices, through phone bugging and extend to including turning off the microphone on video cameras when filming surveillance targets.

Comcare has also explicitly banned investigators from carrying guns, handcuffs, baton or “any offensive or prohibited weapon” when undertaking surveillance on its behalf regardless of whether or not the investigator is otherwise licenced to carry such items.

The tender’s statement of requirements also provides a detailed protocol on dealing with police if covert operatives are face the awkward situation of detected by law enforcement officers.

Notably, the protocol firmly advises that while investigators should “under normal circumstances, identify themselves as private investigators, offer identification readily and be courteous and cooperative” they should not reveal who they are working for.

“The investigator should not state whom they are working for. Police have no authority to demand such information (under normal circumstances). If an officer does demand such information they should be advised that the investigator is working for a Commonwealth Government Statutory Authority and they are under instructions not to reveal the name of the agency,” the tender documents say.

“If the officer persists the investigator should ask to speak to the District or Duty Superintendent and contact FRU case investigator and /or the Assistant Director of the FRU immediately.”

The overt shielding of the identity of who initiated the surveillance underscores the sensitive and potentially environment under which investigators may be required to work.

The Comcare tender says that it will only hire the most above-board of private eyes.

“In addition to, and even more important than, the high standard of operational professionalism that is required, are the personal attributes of integrity and probity,” the documents say.“Comcare will only use investigators who can demonstrate the highest levels of ethics and integrity.”


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