Charged with 106 offences, Micah Robby Elstak was sentenced in the Brisbane District Court for attempting to obtain over $500,000 in fraudulent tax refunds.
Between August 2015 and July 2016, Mr Elstak used the aliases Robert Ketting-Oliver and Ryan McCarthy to orchestrate an elaborate online job scam through various companies, ultimately stealing the identities of 52 taxpayers.
After conducting fake interviews over the phone, Mr Elstak would email applicants to confirm they had been successful in their application for the job. He would also request a scanned copy of their driver’s licence, bank account details, tax file number and shirt size.
Mr Elstak used this information to fraudulently create myGov accounts, or if they already had an account, he used the information to take over their account and change the details as required.
He would then link the myGov accounts to ATO online services where he would lodge false income tax returns in their names. The resulting refunds were credited to one of 63 bank accounts in his control.
Many of the taxpayers reported the scam after they realised the job didn’t exist.
Internal bank anti-fraud measures, in conjunction with efforts by the ATO and Queensland Police Service, resulted in $378,099 of the $565,895 Mr Elstak claimed being stopped before it reached his bank accounts.
ATO assistant commissioner Ian Read welcomed the sentence, and said it served as a reminder to taxpayers not to share personal identifying information.
“Never give out your personal identifying information unless you are certain of who you are speaking to. If your TFN or other personal information has been stolen, disclosed to or used by an unauthorised person, call our Client Identity Support Centre,” Mr Read said.
“Remember, your employer will only need details like your TFN and bank account through a TFN declaration form once you commence your employment.
“To protect taxpayers’ information, we are also encouraging myGov users linked to the ATO to update their myGov sign-in options and opt to receive a security code by SMS. It’s a quick and secure way to sign in to access ATO online services.”
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.