A 38-year-old fraud syndicate member who conspired to defraud the Commonwealth of more than $5-million dollars through GST refunds, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years, in the Melbourne County Court.
Michael Ray of South Melbourne was one of three members of a Victorian-based fraud syndicate who were identified and charged in May 2017 after an investigation by the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federal Police.
Gang first stole people’s identity information
Ray was charged after police found he had attempted to obtain a share in over $5-million and did dishonestly obtain a share in more than $2.5-million from the fraud scheme which operated between 12 November 2010 and 14 December 2012.
He was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a gain from the Commonwealth.
The scheme was devised to illegally obtain personal identifying information. This information was then used to create false entities and register them for GST.
Statements lodged to claim false GST refunds
Business activity statements were then lodged to claim false GST refunds, which were directed to bank accounts that had been created using the stolen identities.
During their investigation, police executed search warrants at a number of Melbourne properties and safety deposit boxes, seizing more than $1.5-million in cash.
Australian Taxation Office Assistant Commissioner, Ian Read, said tax crime impacts the entire Australian community.
ATO says it will hold fraudsters to account
“We know the majority of people are honest,” he said. “But there are a small percentage of people who deliberately abuse the tax and super system for their own financial benefit.
“Today’s sentencing shows that these people will be held to account.”
Read said the recovered $1.5-million would be returned to Commonwealth coffers and the innocent people whose identities were stolen by the syndicate had been provided with support to get their affairs back in order.