IRD mum a $225k fraudster

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 07:15 16/11/2012
Anita Gail O'Connor
Fairfax NZ
ANITA GAIL O'CONNOR

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A former Inland Revenue employee has admitted creating fake credentials she then used to steal taxpayer cash. Belinda Feek reports. 

Ngaruawahia mum Anita Gail O'Connor spent five years fleecing the IRD out of more than $200,000 in a scam which saw her use company reports to dig out taxpayers' who had child support refunds available.

As an IRD employee, in the area of Child Support, the 59-year-old ripped taxpayers off to pay off gang associates she said were threatening her - giving them over $100,000 of the stolen money.

The rest of her loot - a further $125,000 - was spent on cars for herself and her daughter, gambling, groceries and shopping at Harvey Norman.

She used birth certificates from taxpayers applications sent to IRD, modifying them using twink before giving them to two Chinese people to make further changes.

O'Connor made elaborate fake identities to get away with the money, in one case creating a fake IRD and Kiwibank account number, post box - even children for one of the women she made up.

Yesterday she stood in the dock at Hamilton District Court and admitted 163 fraud-related charges in which she created fake passports, birth certificates, IRD numbers and application forms.

The quietly spoken O'Connor, pleaded guilty to each and every charge as they were read out by Judge Glen Marshall.

Her counsel, Gerard Walsh, said O'Connor hoped to pay reparation, but was also on the verge of bankruptcy.

O'Connor obtained about $225,000, however the IRD is seeking $362,000 which includes interest and other penalties.

She clocked up 17 years with IRD until taking voluntary redundancy in August 2009.

Court documents show her forgery began in January 2004 and money continued to be deposited into one account until November 22, 2010. It only stopped when the IRD put a halt on the account.

IRD staff began to get suspicious after clients rang saying they had money deposited into accounts they didn't have.

Her stack of charges vary from corruptly using information obtained by her in her official capacity, in the names of various people, to obtain a child support refund and working for families tax credits and making false documents to obtain child support refunds.

Investigators also found evidence O'Connor had sent 13 letters and made several phone calls to IRD using the names and details of other people, to get refunds.

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Over the five years, she sent 14 fake applications - complete with fake birth certificates - to get working for families credits.

She also used the IRD computer system to get information on 13 men whose details were used as partners of women previously registered to receive credits.

An Inland Revenue spokesman said the vast majority of staff were highly professional and committed, and took their jobs and the requirement to protect the integrity of the tax system very seriously.

However, they wouldn't comment further until sentencing in January.

When approached at her home yesterday, O'Connor became emotional when talking of the toll the offending had taken but declined to comment any further.

COUNTING THE COST

Worked for IRD for 17 years

$225,000 stolen over five years

$100,000 given to gang associates

163 fraud charges

Created fake passports, birth certificates, IRD numbers and application forms.

Spent it on paying off gangs, cars, gambling, groceries and electronics. 

- Waikato

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