A Lake Illawarra fraudster who fleeced over $70,000 in bogus tax claims and COVID-19 business grants has attempted to appeal her prison term.
Rachel Valerie Saville, also known as Rachel Circus, dialled into Wollongong District Court from custody on Monday.
Saville, 36, was sentenced at Port Kembla Local Court on October 4 to 20 months jail with a non-parole period of 10 months.
She pleaded guilty to three counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, obtaining a financial advantage by deception, and two counts of shoplifting.
Tendered court documents revealed Saville's confession to the Australian Tax Office after she used an ABN number to lodge fraudulent business activity statements between February and July 2022, claiming a total of $73,650.
"To whom it may concern, my name is Rachel Valerie Saville and I'm voluntarily owning up to a big mistake I made doing mini business fraud," her email to the ATO read.
She attempted to obtain a further $192,983 in fraudulent GST refunds.
During the height of pandemic lockdowns in 2021, Saville also made fourteen dodgy claims to Service NSW for COVID-19 isolation and micro-business payments.
Saville used her personal email address and phone number, however used an array of different ABN numbers including ones belonging to a bakery and another to a cafe.
She also twice used fake letters from co-accused's to support her applications, claiming on one occasion her 'business' had suffered a 50 per cent downturn due to lockdowns.
Nine out of the 14 applications were successful, allowing Saville to claim another $15,100.
Police investigated Saville's bank accounts and visited her address on January 28. She said she couldn't remember the incidents due to suffering post-traumatic stress disorder however added she was ashamed and had been in contact with the ATO.
Defence lawyer Matt Kwan argued Saville acknowledged she swiped large sums of money however said there was limited planning to her offending.
He said her offending was not the most serious example of fraud and requested Judge Huw Baker to consider an intensive correction order.
However the Crown said the only appropriate sentence for Saville's actions would be one of imprisonment.
Judge Baker agreed and dismissed the appeal, with ATO deputy commissioner John Ford welcoming the outcome, saying tax fraud is not a victimless crime.
'We take attempts at GST fraud seriously - you will face the full force of the law if you engage in this activity,' Mr Ford said.
'...those who engage in this activity are stealing funds that would otherwise be used for essential services.
"We've warned the community and have urged offenders to come forward to the ATO or face even more severe consequences."
Read more Illawarra court and crime stories here.
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