A Queensland woman has been sentenced in the Cairns District Court this week to 3 years in prison after obtaining almost $283,000 in fraudulent GST refunds contrary to s134.2 of the Criminal Code (Cth).
Deborah Martin pleaded guilty to 11 charges of obtaining a financial advantage by deception from the Commonwealth, namely GST credit refunds from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) totalling $282,914.
Between January and March 2022, Ms Martin lodged fraudulent Business Activity Statements to claim GST refunds she was not entitled to.
Acting ATO Deputy Commissioner Jade Hawkins said this latest result under Operation Protego serves as a warning to those who deliberately attempt to defraud the government for their own personal gain.
‘GST fraud is not a victimless crime and those who engage in this activity are stealing funds that would otherwise be used for essential services.We continue to work closely with state law enforcement agencies, like Queensland Police Service, to bring offenders to account,’ Ms Hawkins said.
‘If you have stolen from the community, I urge you to come forward to the ATO or face the consequences.’
Ms Hawkins said the ATO has significantly strengthened its controls and continues to prioritise protecting the system and community against fraud.
‘We have implemented system changes that strike a different balance between making it easy for people to get into the business tax system and harder for those who should not be there.’
Under Operation Protego, which was initiated in response to widespread GST fraud activity, the ATO has taken action against more than 57,000 individuals.
‘Our message is clear, if you don’t run a legitimate business, you don’t need an ABN and you cannot claim GST refunds,’ said Ms Hawkins.
Queensland Police Service Detective Acting Chief Superintendent Craig McGrath said police remain committed to investigating this type of fraud.
‘This is money that could have been provided to the Queensland community for social, health and education services.’
‘The Queensland Police will continue to work closely with our government partners to detect and prosecute criminals who make profits defrauding the government,’ Detective Acting Chief Superintendent McGrath said.
You can anonymously report suspected tax evasion or crime to us by making a tip-off onlineor call 1800 060 062. For more information about GST refund fraud and the latest Operation Protego results visit ato.gov.au/GSTrefundfraud
This matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.