Search warrants were executed this week, with the support of Australian Federal Police (AFP) and NSW Police, in relation to five suspected offenders located in Sydney as part of Operation Protego.
This follows coordinated action across the country last month where raids were executed against 19 individuals suspected of being involved in this GST fraud.
ATO Deputy Commissioner and Chief of the SFCT Will Day said the ATO has zero tolerance for any fraud against Australia’s tax and super system and has a clear and deliberate strategy to identify and pursue these individuals suspected of inventing fake businesses to claim false refunds.
“I need to reiterate my previous warning to those who have not already come forward, that our action this week shows there is no place to hide. We know who has lodged a BAS and who has created a fake business. If you think you won’t be caught, think again. As we continue to take action against those involved, your name could be next on our list, and you could face severe consequences, including jail,” Mr Day said.
As part of Operation Protego, the SFCT is also progressively sharing information relating to all individuals identified as participating in this fraud, with the details of around 29,000 individuals provided the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) to date.
“This demonstrates the strength of our partnerships and shows that we are working across agencies to bring criminals to account. It is not only a response from the ATO that those involved should be worried about, but also the response of our partners, including the ACIC,” Mr Day said.
“This week’s actions demonstrate that the SFCT takes all forms of financial crime seriously. We have information sharing arrangements in place and we are also working with financial institutions, police, social media platforms and other government agencies to stop this fraud from being promoted and perpetuated.”
The ATO announced in May that investigations were underway in relation to Operation Protego. Since this date our sophisticated data analysis, modelling and proactive response to the fraud attempts has resulted in us stopping over $1 billion in fraudulent refunds from issuing.
“We have seen social media play a key role in promoting this type of GST fraud, with some accounts even claiming to be financial advisors. We’ve also had reports of people offering to buy and sell myGov details in order to access these refunds,” Mr Day said.
If you have given your myGov details to a criminal it is vital you contact us so that we can assist you to protect your identity from being used to commit further crimes, including further tax crime in your name. For any matters where you believe your identity has been compromised, phone us on 1800 467 033 for assistance.
We take all reports of tax crime seriously. If people are approached by third parties with something that seems too good to be true – it probably is – they should contact our Tax Integrity Centre on 1800 060 062 or visit ato.gov.au/tipoff. Reports can be made anonymously.
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/GSTrefundfraudFollowing our warning last month to come forward or face severe consequences, the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) has undertaken further action in respect of around 40,000 individuals suspected of being involved in a major GST fraud.