Two charged as Border Force uncovers major duty-free scam

Duty Free shopping at the airport

Two people have been charged after Border Force and Victoria Police uncovered an alleged duty-free scam.

A 29-year-old woman and 22-year-old man, both living in Port Melbourne, were arrested and charged and around $900,000 worth of beauty products and electronic items were seized on 16 November after warrants were executed by Victoria Police and the ABF Jardena Strike Team.

In July 2022 ABF officers and Trident Taskforce investigators began monitoring two individuals who were believed to be exploiting a loophole in the sealed bag scheme for duty-free goods.

The alleged method of ‘duty evasion’ involved buying $1.7 million with of goods in duty-free stores with multiple cards, cash and online payment facilities between the start of May and 15 November, equating to $280,000 in duty and GST evaded.

According to Border Force, the 29-year-old woman would provide proof of a departure flight and sign an in-store declaration of export so she could purchase goods at duty-free stores not located at the airport and then allegedly drop the goods off at home before going to the airport to board a flight.

She would allegedly routinely depart Melbourne for Queenstown, New Zealand, without the duty-free items that she claimed were in her checked luggage before returning to Melbourne the same day and selling the duty-free goods online.

On Wednesday warrants were carried out at a residential address and two storage units in Port Melbourne with an estimated $500,000 of cosmetic goods, electronic items and associated documents were seized at the residential address and $400,000 of cosmetic goods were seized from one of the two storage units searched.

The woman and man have both been charged with four counts of causing loss to a Commonwealth entity and were bailed to appear for a filing hearing at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 23 November.

ABF Acting Superintendent Andrew Holman said authorities will continue to target those engaging in this sort of activity and hold them to accoun.

“If you commit an offence, there is nowhere to hide, we will track you down,” Holman said.

Image: iStock/Eivaisla

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