On 10 August 2016, 31-year old businessman Nicholas Gaskin was sentenced in the District Court of Western Australia to almost three years in jail after pleading guilty to multiple counts of attempted credit card fraud, attempting to pervert the course of justice, attempted tax fraud, forgery and using forged documents.
The tax fraud charges resulted from Gaskin lodging a Business Activity Statement where he falsely claimed a refund of $18,840 in Goods and Services Tax for his business, the Perth Champagne Club, which sold expensive wines.
The basis for the refund was a fabricated purchase of over $200,000 worth of wine from a well-known winemaker and wholesaler. When auditors from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) asked Gaskin to provide proof of purchase, he provided receipts from both his bank and the winemaker.
Enquiries with those businesses established the purchase was fake and as a result the ATO withheld the GST refund and searched Gaskin’s house. They discovered Gaskin had forged the receipts himself.
After pleading guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to attempted tax fraud, forgery and using forged documents charges, Gaskin was committed for sentence to the District Court of Western Australia.
Gaskin also faced charges in the District Court of Western Australia—being prosecuted by the state-based Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions—for attempting to commit credit card fraud and to pervert the course of justice.
These charges related to Gaskin’s attempt to use credit card details he had stolen as a sales representative in the hospitality industry, to place wine orders of up to $15,478.20 for his business. However the online company he placed the orders with was suspicious and suspended the transactions.
When brought before the District Court of WA to be sentenced for the credit card charges, Gaskin gave his lawyers forged character references, supposedly from a school principal, a close friend and a psychologist claiming Gaskin had been treated for anxiety, stress and depression. Believing the character references to be genuine, his lawyers tendered them to the Court. Gaskin pretended to be his psychologist in a phone call made by the Department of Corrective Services to confirm that he was receiving treatment for depression. When Police later searched Gaskin’s car they found a script Gaskin had written to impersonate the psychologist, in case his lawyers tried to call.
Charge / Sentence
Gaskin was sentenced on 10 August 2016 after guilty pleas in relation to:
- One count of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
- Two counts of making a forged document with intention that it is accepted as genuine by a Commonwealth Public Official, contrary to section 144.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
- Two counts of using a forged document with intention that it is accepted as genuine by a Commonwealth pubic official, contrary to section 145.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth)
Gaskin was sentenced by Judge Braddock to 35 months imprisonment for his Western Australia charges, and a further 18 months imprisonment for the tax fraud. He will begin to serve his federal sentence after becoming eligible to apply for parole on his state sentence, and must serve six months of his federal sentence in custody before being released on a good behaviour bond.
In sentencing, Judge Braddock said: “The attempt to defraud the Commonwealth is an attempt to defraud your fellow citizens. These are not victimless forms of behaviour. They are clearly dishonest and repeatedly dishonest … Any fraud on the Commonwealth is a serious matter, particularly when committed as in your instance out of greed, not need.”