The Australian Taxation Office is warning Australians about GST fraud, as its Operation Protego investigates an estimated $850 million worth of fraud made to 40,000 individuals.
With each fraud averaging $20,000, the ATO has identified a recent spike in fraudulent claims, using risk models buoyed by intelligence from Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre-led (AUSTRAC) Fintel Alliance and the Reserve Bank of Australia.
According to the ATO, fake businesses are submitting false Business Activity Statements in an attempt to get a GST refund.
ATO deputy commissioner and chief of the serious financial crime taskforce Will Day is concerned the fraud is being spread on social media, with both the government agency and platforms working together on this issue.
Day warned: “If you see something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“The people who have participated in this fraud are not anonymous. We know who they are, and we will be taking action.”
Legitimate transactions may take longer, cautioned Day, as ‘extra steps’ are required to clamp down on the surge of fraudulent transactions.
“Circumstances where there were deliberate attempts to defraud the ATO or a refusal to organise repayments will lead to tougher actions, including criminal action,” the commissioner said.
The statement issued by the ATO emphasises the office does not offer loans, and that myGov login details should never be shared.
The ATO has stated it is working closely with law enforcement.