26 October 2023

ATO welcomes guilty findings for Wollongong woman who claimed false GST refunds

Scales of justice

The ATO has welcomed the outcome of a court case in which a Wollongong woman was found guilty of GST fraud. Photo: iStock/NiseriN.

A Wollongong woman who attempted to claim more than $250,000 in false GST refunds has been jailed.

Rachel Saville was sentenced in the Port Kembla Local Court to 20 months’ imprisonment after she 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.

Saville pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining benefit by deception. Wollongong District Court recently dismissed an appeal against the sentence.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Deputy Commissioner John Ford said the court case was the latest result of extensive efforts under an ATO-led investigation, Operation Protego, which was initiated in response to widespread GST fraud activity.

He said the ATO welcomed the sentence, which served as a warning to those who deliberately tried to defraud the Government for their own personal gain.

“We take attempts at GST fraud seriously – you will face the full force of the law if you engage in this activity,” Mr Ford said.

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“We continue to see results under Operation Protego, this is just the latest and we expect more to come.

“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 have been handed about $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,” Mr Ford said.

“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.”

Members of the public can anonymously report suspected tax evasion or crime online by calling 1800 060 062. For more details visit the Operation Protego website.

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