An Auckland woman who headed up a sophisticated online Inland Revenue scam which cost the tax payer $700,000 has been jailed.
Katrina Briggs led an organised syndicate that used friends, family and social media contacts to claim 270 tax refunds she was not entitled to.
Agreeing with the comments made by Judge Gerard Winter at Manukau District Court, Graham Tubb, Manager Group Tax Counsel for Inland Revenue, said Briggs' offending was against every New Zealand taxpayer.
"This is a win for all honest taxpayers who do the right thing, and the majority do," said Mr Tubb. "Briggs deliberately chose to try and cheat the system and rip off money that pays for essential services like schools, hospitals and roads.
"Briggs' actions were like that of a queen bee. She was at the centre of the hive and sent out others to gather names and details of taxpayers. She then used the information to claim refunds on Inland Revenue's website and took a cut from each one," he said.
Briggs was sentenced yesterday to four years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to a representative charge of causing loss by deception.
"We take criminal activity extremely seriously," said Mr Tubb. "There's always a small minority working to find new ways to defraud Inland Revenue and cheat honest taxpayers.
"Our systems are designed to pick-up irregularities and we continue to use new tools to help us identify and combat patterns of fraud.
"In this case, Briggs was able to carry out this deception because she had access to people's IRD numbers.
"Protecting our customers' identities from misuse and fraud is something we take extremely seriously," said Mr Tubb. "It's important for taxpayers to protect their IRD number and they should treat it like their banking pin number," he said.
Thanks to the joint efforts of New Zealand Police and Inland Revenue, 18 other people have been sentenced in connection to this case.