Tax Rebates & Refunds

NZ church members convicted of tax rebate fraud

December 19, 2012
Posted in Fraud, Tax Rebates — Written by Jennifer

Three members of a church in New Zealand have been convicted of tax rebate fraud, after it was revealed that they had claimed more than $56,000 in false refunds.

The Evangelical Samoan Wesleyan Methodist Church members – Faalemalo Ipiniu Letoga, Mau Veletaloola and Ita Vienna Aiomata – were all living in the Wellington city of Lower Hutt when they were caught filing false tax rebate claims.

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD), which is the NZ equivalent of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), found that between May 2005 and June 2010, the trio had put in a total of 68 tax rebate claims purportedly from 33 church members. It was later found that many of the supposed claimants did not attend their church, and most did not know that their names and details were being used to break the law.

The three church members said they had made the claims in order to raise money to send back to Samoa. The IRD has taken a very dim view of their actions, however, and has convicted the trio of tax rebate fraud.

Patrick Goggin, investigations and advice manager for the IRD, said of the case:

“The actions of these individuals were a deliberate attempt to claim money to which they were not entitled. They used the names of other people to request funds without their knowledge. They cheated not only these people but all taxpayers with their actions.”

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