The program understates transaction amounts and allows the merchant to pay less taxes.
The tax authorities of Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States have jointly investigated "electronic sales suppression software" - applications that falsify Point of Sale (PoS) data in order to evade tax.
The Joint Revenue Suppression Committee (J5) announcement states that the investigation "led to the arrest of 5 individuals in the United Kingdom who allegedly developed and marketed Electronic Sales Suppression Software (ESS) internationally." Those arrested began distributing software during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sales suppression program is called Zapper and allows retailers to keep separate accounting records and launder money in a single transaction. Sellers can hide and transfer this income anonymously, sometimes offshore
The application works like this: a customer in a restaurant ordered a $60 steak and a $100 bottle of wine, at which point the software modifies the transaction so that it is registered in the PoS system as “a serving of chips for $10 and a bottle of soft drink for $4”. The client pays $160 for his order and does not notice any fraud. The restaurant registers an income of $14, and it can launder $146.
According to J5, ESS originated in the UK, but developers later exported it to other countries, including the US. With this software, thousands of businesses have been able to evade taxes, which is a large-scale technology fraud.
Australian authorities raided 35 separate premises suspected of supplying and using software. J5 also suggested that sales suppression technology is also being marketed "as hardware that plugs into point-of-sale systems as cloud-based software or embedded directly into software."