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Case study: Brisbane man jailed for identity theft and income tax fraud

On 4 October 2019, following a plea of guilty to 45 offences of dealing in identification information, 27 offences of obtaining a financial advantage by a deception, 33 offences of attempting to obtain a financial advantage and one offence of attempting to dishonesty obtain a gain, Ryan McCarthy (27) was sentenced in the Brisbane District Court to five years’ imprisonment with a non‑parole period of 18 months. He was also ordered to pay reparation in the sum of $167,237.28.

Between September 2015 and July 2016, Mr McCarthy created online job advertisements using the names of both legitimate and fictitious companies. Job seekers applied for these positions and submitted their CVs containing personal details. Mr McCarthy telephoned applicants and conducted phone interviews using various aliases. He then emailed applicants offering them the job and asking them to provide further details, including their driver’s licence, bank account details, and tax file number. He then used this identification information to lodge 62 online income tax returns with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that were purportedly by the applicants.

A number of Mr McCarthy’s victims reported their suspicions to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) after they realised the jobs they had applied for didn’t exist. The ATO commenced an investigation in cooperation with Queensland Police

Investigators identified 52 victims and discovered that Mr McCarthy had opened 63 bank accounts with 16 different financial institutions. Investigations also revealed he had used phone services subscribed in the names of his victims.

Mr McCarthy dishonestly claimed a total of $558,584 in refunds in the false income tax returns. As a result, a total of $187,796.41 was paid into bank accounts controlled by Mr McCarthy. Internal bank anti‑fraud measures and efforts by the ATO and Queensland Police resulted in $370,787.63 in tax refunds being withheld.

In sentencing, his Honour Judge Koppenol DCJ said this offending was a “sophisticated example of serious fraud”, and described Mr McCarthy’s behaviour as “despicable”.

“You should not think, nor should anyone think, that behaviour of this kind is a victimless crime. It is not a victimless crime,” Judge Koppenol said. “Your fraud is a fraud on the revenue of our great country. It is therefore a fraud on our whole community. Your activities meant that money that might otherwise have been used for other purposes—community purposes, such as roads and other infrastructure, defence, education, health, welfare, was not used for that purpose but went into your pocket.”