ATO and Australian Federal Police crackdown on GST-fraud promoters

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A raft of enforcement activity has been undertaken across the country by the ATO-led Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, including the execution of search warrants and issuing of warning letters.

At 31 December 2022, the ATO took compliance action on more than 53,000 clients and stopped approximately $2.5 billion in fraudulent GST refunds from being paid to individuals seeking to defraud the system.

Two individuals have been sentenced to jail time for their crimes so far, following their arrest in 2022.

This follows 87 earlier arrests across the country, with many more to come. The ATO has commenced writing to more than 20,000 individuals involved in the fraud, warning them of the serious consequences coming their way unless they come forward and repay the money they have defrauded.

The fraud was first detected in early 2022 and involved offenders inventing fake businesses and Australian business number (ABN) applications, then submitting fictitious Business Activity Statements in an attempt to gain a false GST refund.

Promoters of the fraud use social media and other channels to recruit participants.

The ATO has been issuing warnings to the community to be on the lookout for fraud schemes that are being promoted through social media and other channels.

For those who may be tempted by the promise of big gains, the ATO has sophisticated risk models and works with banks, law enforcement agencies, and other organisations to share information and detect fraud. It also has access to intelligence through community tip offs, social media platforms, and other information sources.

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