A man who pretended to be a sole trader and fraudulently claimed almost $6000 in JobKeeper payments has faced court.
A man who pretended to be a sole trader and fraudulently claimed almost $6000 in JobKeeper payments has faced court.

Fraudster fined over JobKeeper rort

A fraudster who attempted to claim almost $6000 in false JobKeeper payments has been fined in the first criminal conviction of its kind.

Raed Saleh pleaded guilty in the Heidelberg Magistrates' Court on Wednesday to the scam which saw him falsely claim to be a sole trader whose business was suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saleh lodged two months worth of JobKeeper payments online, totalling $3000 each, in May and June last year, stating his business had suffered a 30 per cent decline in turnover.

The Australian Taxation Office deposited $3000 into Saleh's account, but grew suspicious after receiving the second month's application.

Fraud investigators later discovered Saleh was not a sole trader, had no genuine business and was already nominated by his boss as receiving the support payments.

ATO Deputy Commissioner Will Day welcomed the conviction, saying fraud against the stimulus measures is fraud against the community.

Mr Day said Saleh's conduct was "effectively stealing from the pockets of taxpayers at a time when the community needs it most".

"We have an important role to ensure the integrity of the stimulus measures and when we uncover fraud or people seeking to exploit them, we will take action, as we know the community would expect us to do," Mr Day said.

Saleh was convicted and fined $3,000, ordered to pay reparations of $3,000 and legal costs of $282.

Mr Day said the ATO had monitored "every payment, every day, every month" and would continue to scrutinise all claims until JobKeeper payments cease.

As at 16 February 2021, $84 billion in JobKeeper payments have been made by the ATO to over 1 million businesses.

genevieve.alison@news.com.au

Originally published as Fraudster fined over JobKeeper rort


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