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ATO crackdown: $1 billion fraud stopped

An ATO official holding papers by the boot of a car and Australian currency.
The ATO has executed dozens of arrest warrants around the country. (Source: ATO/Getty)

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has executed more than a dozen warrants across the country as it cracks down on GST fraud.

Working alongside the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and other government agencies, the ATO executed warrants against a number of Aussies suspected of defrauding the community by inventing fake businesses to claim free refunds.

The ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) launched a coordinated action this month in 12 locations across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland, which saw warrants executed against 19 individuals suspected of being involved in GST fraud.

ATO deputy commissioner and SFCT chief Will Day said the warrants followed warnings last month for participants to come forward before stronger action was taken.

However, despite these strong warnings, Day said people were still attempting to engage in this type of fraud.

“The ATO has stopped more than $1billion in attempted fraud,” Day said.

“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.”

Day said this would not be the last time the ATO led this kind of operation.

“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,” he said.

“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 the raids, the ATO collected evidence, intelligence, and information to support its ongoing investigations, Day said.

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.

AFP commander economic, corporate crime and corruption, Christopher Woods, said the exploitation of Australia’s tax system had a serious impact on the community and was a matter the AFP took very seriously.

“Every dollar fraudulently obtained represents lost funds that could have been used to benefit everyday Australians in our community,” Woods said.

“The AFP is committed to combatting financial crimes and we will continue to work diligently with our partners in the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce to disrupt and dismantle criminals seeking to cheat the tax system.”

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