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How this man tried to claim $565,000 in tax refunds

Tony Yoo
Wooden blocks spelling out tax with Australian bank notes, pen and calculator.
(Image: Getty)

A man who lodged 62 fraudulent tax returns trying to receive $565,895 of tax refunds has been jailed for five years.

The Brisbane District Court sentenced Micah Robby Elstak this month after hearing 106 charges relating to the identity theft of 52 taxpayers.

Elstak posted fake job advertisements online, then conducted interviews with people who applied for the fictional positions.

He would then tell the candidates that they had been hired, and asked for scanned files of their driver’s licence, tax file number, bank account details and shirt size.

The court heard he used this private data to hijack the victims' myGov accounts to lodge tax returns. The refunds would be directed to be paid to one of 63 bank accounts under his control.

In total he tried to claim $565,895 in refunds.

He was successful in grabbing almost $200,000 of that before the banks, the Australian Taxation Office and Queensland Police stopped the payments, based on tip-offs from victims who realised the jobs were fake.

Assistant commissioner Ian Read warned Australians to not disclose private data unless they were 100 per cent sure who they are giving it to.

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

"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."

He urged Australians to always report suspicions of tax fraud, especially when tax file numbers could have been stolen.

"People who try to cheat the tax system will get caught and we will take firm action, including penalties and criminal prosecution."

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