Know someone who suddenly drives a high-end sports car, has moved to a much bigger house, or is dripping with expensive jewelry?
Then there is a good chance that that person is involved in financial crime.
The high-profile case of fake Sydney financial adviser Melissa Caddick has again drawn attention to the prevalence of financial crimes in Australia.
Someone who very suddenly purchases a flash car or boat could be involved in financial crime, the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce says
Spending on luxury goods and large withdrawals are other telltale signs
The case of missing Sydney financial adviser Melissa Caddick (center), pictured with husband Anthony Koletti (right), had refocused public attention on the characteristics of a financial criminal
This kind of crime can rob people of their savings, see them steal their identities and lead to small businesses never being paid for services rendered.
Now, Australia’s Serious Financial Crime Taskforce has released a criminal ‘identikit’ to help people identify possible financial criminals, as well as tips on how to avoid them.
The Taskforce, which has recovered more than $1 billion from criminals in unpaid taxes and fines since 2015, lists 10 “types” to watch out for, from The Hardcore Criminal to the Tax Fraud, The Lieutenant, The Rorter, and The Fixer (see Below) .
William Day, head of the Task Force, explained what to look for if someone suspects someone of involvement in financial crime, as well as some characteristics of the perpetrators.
“Warning signs are things you might recognize from crime shows or movies, such as a posh lifestyle that goes beyond one’s day job,” Mr Day told Daily Mail Australia.
“Made large purchases with cash, keep two sets of books, or use false names. Lying or being suspicious about income and where it comes from are also warning signs.”
Will Day, Head of the Task Force: ‘It’s important to ask. “Is this too good to be true?” The reality is that if it feels unreliable, it probably is.”
Day warned that financial crimes such as tax fraud and money laundering are being used to fund other crimes such as drug trafficking in Australia.
“The types of people involved in financial crime range from hard-core criminals to the lieutenant, who may only get part of the picture, but they find themselves getting deeper and deeper.
‘Then you see the enablers, professionals who use their skills, structures and networks to link people to structures that facilitate tax crime, which can be offshore structures.
‘[We also see] the straw director, people who could give their name to be a straw man director of a company. Often, for a fairly small fee, they are tricked into actually holding the can for some pretty bad phoenix behavior (where a company is a cover for criminal activity).’
A person hiding money or the source of money, making large purchases with cash and making large withdrawals, or suddenly spending more on luxury items and collectibles are all telltale signs of a financial criminal.
‘A posh lifestyle beyond one’s day job’ is a sign that someone may be involved in financial crime, Mr Day said
Mr Day identified cybercrime and identity theft as growing methods of committing financial crime.
“Be careful with your information and your bills,” he said. “Be wary of requests for your personal information, such as tax numbers or bank details, or unsolicited emails such as password changes or verification links.
When it comes to protecting yourself from serious financial crime, it’s important to ask. “Is this too good to be true?” The reality is that if it feels unreliable, it probably is.
“The ATO Tipline is always available to anyone with concerns, and tip-offs can remain anonymous.”
The Serious Financial Crime Task Force has conducted more than 1,300 audits to date and currently has 50 operations underway against potential financial criminals.
ATO tip hotline: 1800 060 062.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A FINANCIAL CRIMINAL?
The hardcore criminal: The main instigator, overseer and beneficiary of the most serious financial crimes. These persons are often members of or associated with organized (international) crime syndicates or groups.
The lieutenant: The person on the ground who works for hardcore criminals to find and manage the various resources and enablers they need. They will usually not be aware of the full extent of the crimes involving ‘their employer’. They will only know their piece of the puzzle.
The booster: Enablers are professionals who use their skills, structures and networks to help facilitate serious financial crime.
The tax fraud: An opportunist who takes advantage of situations that arise, works with professional enablers to commit and hide their crimes and tries to make his way through the system.
The cybercriminal: These criminals use technology to access information and sensitive data that can be used to facilitate a range of crimes, including tax crimes and identity theft.
The Serious Financial Crime Task Force released an identification of 10 typical financial criminals to help the public identify possible perpetrators
The fixer: A person who profits by facilitating offshore tax evasion. More specifically, they help individuals, untrustworthy companies and criminal syndicates to hide the source of money and how much money they have.
The Phoenix Operator: Someone who intentionally winds up or leaves a business (usually within a year), leaving behind their debts and no one to chase. They can then immediately start another company to take over the ‘failed’ company, or they often flee the country.
The Straw Director: The director of a company(ies) intended to be liquidated in the short term, or a shell company set up for the purpose of avoiding (tax) debts. In some cases, however, straw drivers are not complicit in serious financial crimes, but are best described as ‘victims’.
The Rotter: A person who lies or withholds information to fraudulently access a range of government grants (including COVID-19 incentives).
The money launderer: Set up businesses and money flow structures that make illegally obtained proceeds (dirty money) appear legal (clean).
Source: Serious Financial Crime Task Force
How do you recognize a financial criminal?