A DOZEN warrants were executed across Australia last week as the ATO, AFP and other Government agencies crack down on individuals suspected of defrauding the community by inventing fake businesses to claim false refunds.
The ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) launched a coordinated action on 15, 16 and 17 June in 12 locations across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, which saw warrants executed against 19 individuals suspected of being involved in GST fraud.
ATO Deputy Commissioner and SFCT Chief Will Day said these warrants followed warnings last month for participants to come forward before stronger action was taken.
However, despite these strong warnings, Mr Day said people were still attempting to engage in this fraud.
“The ATO has stopped more than a billion dollars in attempted fraud. This is a clear warning to individuals considering participating – you will not be successful, you are not anonymous, and you will face the consequences of your attempts.
“This week’s activity in relation to Operation Protego will most definitely not be the last,” Mr Day said.
“For those that have already committed this fraud, we know who you are, and you will need to repay the fake refunds you have obtained. You could face severe consequences, including jail if you do not speak to us before we knock on your door. Come forward now or face potentially tougher penalties.”
During this week’s raids the ATO, with the support of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), collected evidence, intelligence, and information to support its ongoing investigations.
This activity follows the arrests of six individuals earlier this month in Victoria in connection to the fraud.
The fraud involves offenders inventing fake businesses and Australian Business Number (ABN) applications, many in their own names, then submitting fictitious Business Activity Statements in an attempt to gain a false GST refund.
In some cases, people have been encouraged to hand over their personal details to facilitators.
Anyone who is involved is encouraged to come forward by calling 1300 130 017 rather than wait and face even tougher consequences later. More information is available at: ato.gov.au/GSTrefundfraud
The ATO is reminding people that:
- The ATO does not offer loans. If you see someone advertising a way to get a loan from the ATO, this is a rort
- The ATO does not administer government disaster payments
- If you are not in business, you do not need an ABN
- You should never share your myGov login details. You may be giving your identity directly to criminals who can use it to impersonate you, or sell it to other criminals
- False declarations may impact eligibility for other government payments
- We have the data matching ability to detect these patterns and stop the fraud
- Stealing from the ATO is not a victimless crime, you are stealing from people in need of government support and people using public services such as health care, education and infrastructure.
- The ATO shares information with a range of government partners when responding to fraud, including law enforcement agencies