Australian eBay sellers have been put on notice after Centrelink confirmed it is cracking down on people who receive benefits while making large profits on the online selling platform.
eBay has been asked to reveal the identities of around 15,000 people who have sold more than $20,000 worth of goods on the site in one year, as part of a major crackdown on welfare fraud.
Those who use the site as a genuine hobby will not be targeted. Hank Jongen, head of Centrelink, told the ABC the government simply wants to ensure the system is not being abused.
“The aim of this program… is to identify people who may be receiving Centrelink payments who are operating an organised business in the online cash economy in order to hide profits,” Jongen said.
“The emergence of new technology has meant that in reality we’ve got to become more innovative in the way we detect fraud.”
“Online trading creates an opportunity for people to earn income and, in some instances, we believe people may not be declaring that income.”
According to Jongen, eBay is co-operating with the government.
eBay spokeswoman Sandy Culkoff confirmed last night eBay received a request from the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Human Resources for information relating to members of the site who had sales greater than $20,000 in any given financial year.
“The ATO and department requests information such as contact name and user ID, email address and IP address, company business number and ABN, bank account details and monthly sales data,” Culkoff said.
“We can confirm that eBay has and will continue to work with government departments to provide them with the information that eBay is legally required to provide.”
“eBay always notifies its members when this information has been provided to the ATO and the Department of Human Resources.”
The government said it intends to increase surveillance of online trading if the initiative successfully catches out incidents of welfare fraud.