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  • Operation Protego

    Sentencing details for Operation Protego, an ATO-led investigation into large-scale GST fraud.

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    About Operation Protego

    Operation Protego is an ATO-led investigation into large-scale GST fraud that was promoted particularly on social media. The attempted fraud involves an individual:

    • inventing a fake business
    • lodging a fraudulent Australian business number (ABN) application, and
    • submitting fictitious business activity statements (BAS) to attempt to gain a false GST refund.

    In May 2022 we issued warnings to the community to be on the lookout for fraud schemes being promoted through social media and other channels and advised those who were involved to come forward.

    The most serious offenders of financial crime are referred to the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), including individuals involved in Operation Protego. The SFCT is taking firm action against individuals, facilitators and promoters suspected of defrauding the community by inventing fake businesses to claim false GST refunds.

    You need to check the facts – nobody is giving money away for free or offering loans that don’t need to be paid back. Simply speaking, if you don’t operate a business, you don’t need an ABN, and you shouldn’t lodge a BAS. This is fraud.

    For those who may be tempted by the promise of big gains, the ATO has sophisticated risk models and works with banks, law enforcement agencies and other organisations to share information and detect fraud. It also has access to intelligence through community tip offs, and other information sources. The SFCT brings together the knowledge, resources and experience of relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies to identify and address the most serious and complex forms of financial crime.

    Latest news

    30 August 2023 – Linden Phillips sentenced to 7 and a half years jail

    Linden Phillips was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison with a non-parole period of 5 years. He was changed with obtaining financial advantage by deception, attempt to obtain financial advantage by deception, and deal with the proceeds of crime.

    Mr Phillips lodged false business activity statements which saw him fraudulently receive more than $830,000.

    For more information see Mildura man jailed for 7 years for GST fraud

    29 August 2023 – Justin McCormick sentenced to 2 years jail

    Justin McCormick was sentenced to 2 years jail with a 12-month non-parole period and ordered to repay almost $110,000 of funds fraudulently obtained. He was charged with 5 offences of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception from the Commissioner of Taxation.

    Mr McCormick had an ABN which had been registered between 28 March 2009 and 13 February 2015. He then re-registered this ABN on 11 February 2022 with the intent to lodge business activity statements for a business that did not exist and to claim GST on purchases that were never made.

    As a result of the false information reported in each BAS, McCormick obtained $109,278 in GST refunds, an amount to which he was not entitled.

    For more information see Perth man jailed as Protego enforcement action continues

    Last modified: 06 Sep 2023QC 73209