Superannuation fraud detected in Super Match by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority

Deputy chairwoman Helen Rowell, second from left, and others at Australian Prudential Regulation Authority give evidence. Picture: Parliament House hearing
Deputy chairwoman Helen Rowell, second from left, and others at Australian Prudential Regulation Authority give evidence. Picture: Parliament House hearing

A second superannuation fraud has been discovered, with fraudsters stealing identities to access a Tax Office scheme that helps people find their superannuation fund.

The fraud was revealed by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority at a coronavirus Senate inquiry on Thursday.

The "SuperMatch" scheme has been suspended as a result.

Authority deputy chairwoman Helen Rowell said it had been discovered that third parties had stolen people's identities and logged into a super fund, using the online portal to then search for other funds held in the same name. The fraud had been identified early, and there was no evidence money had been lost through it.

It follows news early this month that up to 150 people have had $10,000 taken from their superannuation accounts by fraudsters, in a scheme now being investigated by the police.

The government is allowing people to take up to $20,000 from their superannuation savings this year - $10,000 before June 30 and another $10,000 from July 1 - to help them in the coronavirus crisis. The measure has given rise to the frauds.

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By May 22, 1.6 million people had accessed up to $10,000 of their superannuation, totalling $13.2 billion.

Mrs Rowell said applications had steadied to about 200,000 a week.

The overall number of applications was higher than forecast, but the amount of money drawn down was in line with Treasury's expectations, she said.

Asked whether the withdrawals were threatening the liquidity of superannuation funds, Mrs Rowell said at the current level of drawdowns it was "manageable". If the economy deteriorated and there was big demand on the scheme, that "may cause some concerns for some funds", so the authority was monitoring it closely.

The authority also revealed it had been given very little notice of the government's plans to introduce the scheme.

The authority had been contacted by the government on March 18, just four days before the scheme was announced on March 22.

It was given "a very high-level verbal outline" of a proposed scheme and asked to give same-day advice on its implications. A couple of days later it had been given "updated parameters" and asked whether its view had changed - which it hadn't, Mrs Rowell said.

Asked about scams, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said people were impersonating government officials and offering to help with early release of superannuation or merging superannuation accounts. There had been similar approaches for the JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes.

A "heightened sense of awareness and concern" should be applied when people tried to impersonate a professional adviser or government official, the agency said.

Nationals Senator Perin Davey asked Prudential Regulation Authority chairman Wayne Byres what he thought of Labor's description of the early-access superannuation scheme as "robbing" people of their savings.

Mr Byres responded that he would not comment on government policy, but "like many things we're grappling with in this environment they are always trade offs, noting unfortunately is free".

"People are having to trade off some of their short term financial needs against some of their long-term financial needs," he said.

This story New superannuation fraud detected first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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