Tax office detects super scheme ‘fraud’
The Australian Taxation Office says it has detected fraudsters attempting to scam the Government's early access superannuation scheme.
The ATO says it is investigating "fraudulent activity" affecting the scheme, with some users already reporting having money stolen.
According to Sky News, there have been at least 100 cases, with one applicant reporting having their details stolen and losing $10,000 from a super account.
The Australian Federal Police has been called in to investigate the matter urgently after the issue was raised on Wednesday.
In an issued statement, the ATO said: "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.
"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.
"The ATO's online systems have not been compromised.
"The matter is currently under investigation by the AFP and for operational reasons we are unable to comment further at this stage."
More than 950,000 Australians have applied to access their superannuation since April 20, with $7.9 billion in claims to be paid out. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the average withdrawal was around $8000.
The Federal Government launched the scheme in response to the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.
Eligible Aussies were able to grab $10,000 from their super this financial year and a further $10,000 in 2020-21, with applications being accepted through Australian Taxation Office online services in myGov.
To be eligible for early release of super, a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and New Zealand must be either unemployed or eligible to receive the Jobseeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment, special benefit or farm household allowance.
You are also eligible if you were made redundant, had your working hours reduced by at least 20 per cent or were a sole trader whose business was suspended or had a reduction in turnover of 20 per cent or more on or after January 1, 2020.
However, experts have previously told news.com.au Aussies should only access their super early as a last resort.
"Before you withdraw super, there are two main things you need to consider," Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) senior executive leader, financial capability Laura Higgins told news.com.au.
"Firstly, have you considered other options such as government financial assistance or applying for a hardship variation on your mortgage? Secondly, are you considering the long-term impacts?
"Money withdrawn and spent now is money you won't have invested for the future. Go to Moneysmart.gov.au and make an informed decision."
Finance expert Natasha Janssens, the founder of the Women With Cents online finance platform for women, said withdrawing super early could be a huge mistake.
"Superannuation tends to grow over the long term, and by taking out more than necessary now, people might miss an opportunity for future growth, leaving them with a lower retirement balance," she said.
At the moment, a single person aged around 65 would need just over $28,000 per year or a couple just over $40,000 to have a "modest" retirement, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).
Originally published as Tax office detects super scheme 'fraud'