More than 1.2 million Australians have applied to withdraw nearly $10 billion from their super accounts during the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s feared some people have lost money due to fraud.

The tax office has frozen applications for early access to superannuation after identifying instances of identity theft.

But Australian Federal Police fear up to 150 people have lost $120,000 through fraud.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said claims for early super would be put on hold while the allegations were investigated.

“We will undertake that process just to make sure there is nothing more that the Australian Tax Office could do,” he told Sky News on Friday.

One case under investigation relates to a tax agent whose databases were hacked by cybercriminals.

Personal details of clients were exploited in the attack.

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Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who is responsible for various policing and intelligence agencies, said there had been no cyber intrusions within superannuation funds or the ATO.

“But we do have an instance where this one tax agent has had his system compromised and the personal details of some of those clients are being used in a fraudulent way,” Dutton said.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government was unwise to allow early access to superannuation.

Albanese said it would damage people’s retirement savings, reduce the liquidity of super funds, and distort future market investments.

He said the government had known about the potential for fraud.

“It’s very clear that this suspension is not only necessary, it could have been foreseen and indeed was foreseen by the superannuation industry and by Labor,” Albanese told reporters in Canberra.

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