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ATO goes after 40,000 people in $850 million GST scam

Online Scams

ATO goes after 40,000 people in $850 million GST scam

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More than 40,000 taxpayers have been put on notice after the Australian Tax Office (ATO) got wind of an $850 million “significant fraud” circulating on social media where offenders were claiming GST refunds for non-existent businesses.

The con involved creating a sham business and ABN application, and then submitting falsified business activity statements to receive a fraudulent GST refund.

Payments were made to some 40,000 people, the ATO continued, with each person claiming an average of around $20,000 each in the scam.

But the fraudulent payments are now under the microscope of Operation Protego, the ATO says, as the tax office works alongside banks, the Reserve Bank and an AUSTRAC-led coalition of law enforcement and financial industry players to unpick the damage.

ATO deputy commissioner Will Day warned offenders that they are not anonymous.

“We know who they are and we will be taking action,” he said.

“We are working with social media platforms to help remove content promoting this fraud, but if you see something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

But Day was also conscious that it may be the unwitting byproduct of financial difficulties arising from natural disasters or…

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