A Wollongong woman was recently sentenced in the Port Kembla Local Court to 1 year and 8 months imprisonment after attempting to obtain more than $250,000 in fraudulent GST refunds.
This is the latest result of extensive efforts under an Australian Taxation Office (ATO)-led investigation, Operation Protego, which was initiated in response to widespread GST fraud activity.
The ATO welcomes this sentence which serves as a warning to those who deliberately try to defraud the government for their own personal gain.
Rachel Saville lodged 63 fraudulent business activity statements between February 2022 and July 2022, obtaining $73,650 and attempting to obtain a further $192,983 in fraudulent GST refunds.
After pleading guilty to four counts of obtaining benefit by deception, Ms Saville received a custodial sentence of 20 months. A recent appeal against this sentence was dismissed by the Wollongong District Court.
ATO Deputy Commissioner John Ford said this outcome highlights the ATO’s ability to hold offenders to account.
‘We take attempts at GST fraud seriously – you will face the full force of the law if you engage in this activity. We continue to see results under Operation Protego, this is just the latest and we expect more to come,’ Mr Ford said.
‘Tax crime is not victimless and those who engage in this activity are stealing funds that would otherwise be used for essential services. We’ve warned the community and have urged offenders to come forward to the ATO or face even more severe consequences.’
As part of Operation Protego, the ATO has taken action against more than 56,000 alleged offenders, and those involved in this fraud have already been handed in the order of $300 million in penalties and interest which continues to accrue.
‘We are escalating our efforts to enforce repayment of this fraud, this includes continuing to work closely with state and federal law enforcement agencies to bring offenders to account,’ said Mr Ford.
‘Our message is clear – if you don’t run a business, you don’t need an ABN and you can’t claim GST refunds. This is fraud.’
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