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AFP investigates early access to super fraud

The Australian Federal Police has announced an investigation into alleged fraudulent activity associated with the early access to super scheme, with 150 people estimated to have been affected.

AFP investigates early access to super fraud
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • May 08, 2020
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The Tax Office has announced that measures designed to protect the integrity of the early access to superannuation scheme have “helped detect a small amount of fraudulent activity associated with the program”.

The ATO maintained that its “systems were not hacked”.

However, the office did admit that a number of people have had their details “unlawfully used”.

“A small number of people appear to have had personal details unlawfully used in a bid to defraud the program. This has been stopped and the impacted individuals are being contacted,” said the ATO.

“The ATO’s online systems have not been compromised.”

Speaking to a parliamentary inquiry, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the AFP has so far executed five search warrants, freezing $120,000 in several banks accounts.

Mr Kershaw noted that the alleged fraud was first spotted by financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC, which informed the ATO, which referred it to the AFP on 1 May. 

“We're working with the ATO, and the relevant super funds as well, in relation to establishing, first of all—I'll use the words 'up to 150 possible victims', because we're having to resolve whether it has legitimately gone to those clients or not.

“There's still a lot of work to do, but our earliest assessment is it could be up to 150 who have had their $10,000, or up to $10,000, defrauded from their superannuation fund,” Mr Kershaw said.

Applying for early access to super is done through the ATO’s online services in myGov. According to most recent data, the program has had over 1 million applications approved, totalling more than $9 billion.

Also addressing the parliamentary inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 response, Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan explained that tax agents may have been targets of the fraud.

“When we get this higher level of sophistication [of fraud], it doesn't tend to be a breach against us or our systems, it is others who have the information that we use to verify people and that information is in the hands of other people, including agents,” said Mr Jordan.

“I'm not in any way trying to be critical of agents but there are some without the same level of security of that information than others and the breaches that are the sophisticated ones tend to come through those intermediaries.”

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