The Courier-Mail

ATO puts overseas students in targets

- RENEE VIELLARIS

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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