The Courier-Mail

ATO puts over­seas stu­dents in tar­gets

- RE­NEE VIELLARIS Business · Crime · Taxes · Society · Fraud · Immigration · White-collar Crime · Visa International Service Association · Victoria Police · Victoria · Peter Dutton · Australia · Australian Taxation Office

VISA po­lice will give the tax man the per­sonal de­tails of ev­ery for­eign na­tional on a stu­dent and 457 visa in a bid to crack down on fraud.

The Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice has re­quested the Immigratio­n and Bor­der Force Depart­ment to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about for­eign na­tion­als who left in 2013 and those who will be here un­til 2017.

The ATO is con­cerned crim­i­nals are of­fer­ing cash for the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of de­part­ing for­eign stu­dents and 457 work­ers in a bid to sub­mit false tax re­turns.

It comes as the Ab­bott Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to de­fend the Bor­der Force af­ter it was en­gulfed in a public re­la­tions dis­as­ter cen­tred on stop­ping peo­ple in Mel­bourne to check their visas. The blitz, named Op­er­a­tion For­ti­tude, was to be done with Vic­to­ria Po­lice and was can­celled af­ter a last-minute call to protest was or­gan­ised by out­raged cit­i­zens through so­cial media.

It was re­vealed yesterday Immigratio­n Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton was given an ad­vance copy of the media re­lease which ex­plained the op­er­a­tion, but no one in his of­fice read it.

The Courier-Mail can re­veal the ATO is wor­ried about 457 work­ers and for­eign stu­dents be­ing tar­geted by fraud­sters.

It is be­lieved crim­i­nals are brazenly ask­ing for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion shop­ping list re­quests – such as tax file num­bers – on some univer­sity no­tice boards.

An ATO spokesman could not re­veal how much money may have been scammed.

“We are … con­cerned that some tem­po­rary visa hold­ers/ stu­dents may be ap­proached to sell their iden­tity in­for­ma­tion and tax file num­ber when de­part­ing Aus­tralia,” he said. The Tax Of­fice had asked for de­tails of visa hold­ers and their spon­sors.

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