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  • ATO kicks off Stay Smart Online week as online tax fraudster heads to jail

    A man charged with 106 offences has been sentenced to five years jail today at the Brisbane District Court after it was found that he lodged 62 fraudulent income tax returns, attempting to obtain over $500,000 in refunds.

    Between August 2015 and July 2016, Mr Micah Robby Elstak used the aliases Robert Ketting-Oliver and Ryan McCarthy to orchestrate an elaborate online job scam through various companies, ultimately stealing the identities of 52 taxpayers.

    After conducting fake interviews over the phone, Mr Elstak would email applicants to confirm they had been successful in their application for the job. He would also request a scanned copy of their driver’s licence, bank account details, tax file number and shirt size.

    Mr Elstak used this information to fraudulently create myGov accounts, or if they already had an account, he used the information to take over their account and change the details as required. He would then link the myGov accounts to ATO online services where he would lodge false income tax returns in their names. The resulting refunds were credited to one of 63 bank accounts in his control.

    Many of the taxpayers reported the scam after they realised the job didn’t exist.

    Internal bank anti-fraud measures, in conjunction with efforts by the ATO and Queensland Police Service, resulted in $378,099 of the $565,895 Mr Elstak claimed being stopped before it reached his bank accounts.

    Assistant Commissioner Ian Read welcomed the sentence handed down today.

    “As demonstrated today, people who try to cheat the tax system will get caught and we will take firm action, including penalties and criminal prosecution”, Mr Read said.

    In light of Stay Smart Online week, Mr Read said that this sentencing serves as a timely reminder for people to be aware of what you share.

    “Never give out your personal identifying information unless you are certain of who you are speaking to. If your TFN or other personal information has been stolen, disclosed to or used by an unauthorised person call our Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033.

    “Remember, your employer will only need details like your TFN and bank account through a TFN declaration form once you commence your employment.

    “To protect taxpayers’ information, we are also encouraging myGov users linked to the ATO to update their myGov sign-in options and opt to receive a security code by SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.

    “You can help stop refund fraud. If you suspect someone of being involved in tax fraud, you should report it”, Mr Read said.

    If you have any information which may indicate tax fraud or evasion, find out how to report it by visiting ato.gov.au/tipoff. Reports can be made to the ATO anonymously.

    Last modified: 04 Oct 2019QC 60262