Jail for scammers who defrauded early super scheme

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Three people will go to prison after pleading guilty to defrauding the COVID-19 early release of superannuation scheme for $103,500.

The Brisbane District Court sentenced three women from Queensland, whose identities were not revealed, for submitting several fraudulent applications to access the early release of super during the pandemic by using myGov accounts to claim to be other super account holders.

Two women who both pleaded guilty on May 28 were sentenced to three years and six months' imprisonment. The third woman was sentenced in April to five months in prison.

jail for scammers who defrauded covid early super scheme

The Morrison government at the height of COIVD-19 allowed the withdrawal of $10,000 from super savings over two financial years if members lost a job or 20% of their income.

Between April 20, 2020 and December 31, 2020, the ATO received 4.78 million applications totalling $39.2 billion of money yanked out of the super asset pool. It approved 4.55 million applications that amounted to $37.8 billion.

The Australian Federal Police's (AFP) anti-fraud Taskforce Iris charged the women in August 2020, initially announcing that there were seven people involved.

Together with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Queensland Police Service, and Services Australia, the AFP executed search warrants in the Southeast Queensland suburbs of Morayfield, Worongary, Balmoral, Eagleby, and Burpengary East on August 6, 2020.

AFP commander John Tanti says anyone who uses stolen identity information to try to steal money from hard-working Australians saving for their retirement should think again.

"The AFP will continue to pursue and charge offenders who attempt to steal and defraud by using the stolen or fake identity information of other people," he says.

Acting ATO deputy commissioner Jade Hawkins commented that fraudulent behaviour like this takes essential funding away from Australians' retirement savings.

"We, along with our partner agencies, are committed to investigating and delivering consequences to those who commit fraud," she says.

This article first appeared on Financial Standard

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Karren Vergara is a financial journalist with Financial Standard, covering wealth management, including superannuation, banking and financial planning. Prior to becoming a journalist, she was an accountant for more 10 years. She has a diploma in journalism and Bachelor's degree in business, both from UTS.