A 25-year-old man has been arrested by the Queensland cybercrime police on 106 charges relating to Commonwealth fraud and identity crime worth more than $500,000.
His arrest came on the 5th of October after a joint investigation was launched by the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, State Crime Command and the Criminal Law Investigations area of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The Financial and Cyber Crime group happens to be working with the Queensland Police Service as well as other units in efforts to curb cybercrime.
He now faces over 100 fraud and identity crime charges, all linked to 63 allegedly fraudulent tax returns submitted by Australian Taxation Office’s myTax system between September 2015 and July 2016.
The man from Pine Rivers also allegedly opened 42 bank accounts and 54 stolen tax file numbers (TFN) to lodge 63 fraudulent returns in addition to scamming $566,762 from the ATO.
In a statement released by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Will Day, deputy commissioner stated:
“These alleged crimes are serious. For those who deliberately try to defraud the Commonwealth and rip off honest taxpayers, our message is simple – you will be caught, and you will face prosecution.”
He also said that this is a reminder for taxpayers to continue identifying information such as bank account details, tax file numbers, and date of birth secure.
“Fraudsters can steal personal identification information using various methods from sources outside of the ATO,” Mr. Day said.
He continued by saying “this information is then used to impersonate ATO clients and lodge fraudulent tax returns.”
According to the authorities, illegal returns were lodged via online by the do-it-yourself service myTax. ATO promotes the online service as the “quick, easy, safe and secure way for you to prepare and lodge your own tax return.”
A Detective Superintendent of the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, Terry Lawrence stated that “This is pleasing and a further development in our inter-agency relationship which does not bode well for offenders. We would ask members of the community to maintain control of their personal identification information to reduce the instance of this and other fraudulent crimes occurring,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Will Day after the operation also said the joint investigation is a clear indication that, when agencies come together to work, sharing intelligence and investigation tools, great results can be achieved.
He stated: “The ATO uses sophisticated data analysis tools to catch criminals who attempt to break the law. These alleged crimes are serious. For those who deliberately try to defraud the Commonwealth and rip off honest taxpayers, our message is simple – you will be caught, and you will face prosecution,” he added.
The 25-year-old man is scheduled to reappear in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on the 23rd of October.
Australia has been stepping up efforts over the last few years in fighting tax fraud. Many groups and units aside from the ATO have been created and equipped with adequate and skilled personnel to work towards the goal of fighting tax fraud. A typical example is The Serious Financial Crime Task Force.
It started operating on the 1st of July 2015 and has produced positive results by convicting over 300 criminals from their prosecutions collecting over $152.53 million in the process.
The ATO itself has also collaborated with their partner agencies over the past few years resorting to the use of their unique analytics to catch individuals who intentionally break the law in attempts to avoid paying the due amount of tax or claim refunds of which they are not entitled to.
They have also achieved many results including Mr. Kritsakul Thavapitak, a 41-year-old man from Victoria, who was convicted of income tax fraud.
During ATO’s investigation into the matter, they discovered that Mr. Thavapitak had received and dealt with $82,879 in fraudulent tax refunds over a period of two months.
A series of fraud committed on the ATO led to the tax refunds which involved the lodgment of 13 fake income tax returns on behalf of over a dozen taxpayers whose identities were unknown.
ATO’s investigators provided evidence showing that the taxpayers were not employed in the returns.
Mr. Thavapitak was then ordered to pay compensation of $82,879 alongside serving a two-year jail term for his involvement in a refund fraud.