Identity thief preys on 52 job-seekers in $560,000 scam
BLINDSIDED victims of an elaborate $558,000 job scam felt "broken" when they realised their dreams of gaining employment had been stolen by an identity thief.
Fifty-two people from five states fell victim to Ryan McCarthy's sophisticated scheme that began when he was 23 to pay off a drug debt, and continued over 10 months in 2015 and 2016.
The Brisbane District Court heard the 27-year-old, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast, would post ads on online job sites, conduct 20-minute phone interviews and then tell candidates they had been successful.
He would then ask for their bank card details, driver's licences and tax file numbers.
"He was confident, professional and convincing," federal prosecutor Katie Shae said.
McCarthy then lodged 62 false income tax returns through the MyGov website which resulted in almost $188,000 paid into 62 different bank accounts all controlled by McCarthy.
A further $370,000 was stopped by the Australian Tax Office, who by 2016 had cottoned on to McCarthy's scheme and launched an investigation with Queensland Police.
McCarthy appeared in Brisbane District Court on Friday, after pleading guilty to 106 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception, dealing in identification information and attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception.
Ms Shae spoke of the devastation victims suffered at the hands of McCarthy.
They were so convinced they had secured jobs, they went out and bought clothes and turned up at job locations for their first day of work, only to find out they had been scammed.
In harrowing victim statements read in court, many talked about how they had been "ecstatic" when they had finally gained employment, only to feel completely broken, depressed and preyed upon.
Defence barrister Robert Gordon said McCarthy had felt "relief" when he was caught and described how after school his client had fallen "into the wrong crowd" and turned to drugs.
Mr Gordon said McCarthy had become a father two weeks ago and had "turned his life around" after meeting his wife and moving back to the Sunshine Coast, where he was working on the NBN rollout as a senior fibre technician.
Judge Gregory Koppenol slammed the ruse as "serious and sophisticated" and his actions as "despicable".
"You exploited the victims' vulnerability for your personal financial gain," Judge Koppenol said.
"It was due to the good work of the tax office and the Queensland Police Service that your fraud was stopped.
"Your fraud is a fraud on the revenue of our great country. It is therefore a fraud on our whole community."
McCarthy was sentenced to five years' jail and will be eligible for parole after 18 months.
Judge Koppenol also ordered he repay the remainder of the $188,000 to the ATO. McCarthy has already paid some back. - NewsRegional