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Scam warning – ‘fake tax debt’ scam

In a recent twist in the ‘fake tax debt’ scam, the Australian Taxation Office have received increasing reports of a new scam method where scammers impersonate registered agents to lend legitimacy to their phone call.

The fraudsters do this by:

  • coercing the victim into revealing their agent’s name
  • initiating a three-way phone conversation between the scammer, the victim, and another scammer impersonating the victim’s registered agent or someone from the agent’s practice.

Victims have fallen for this new approach. In one recent example, a scammer left a voicemail for Darren, advising they were from the ATO and that Darren would go to jail for five years if he did not contact the ATO due to an outstanding debt. Darren called back on the number provided and was advised to make a payment of $9,000 straight away, as the federal police had been assigned to the case and he would go to jail for five years if the debt wasn’t settled today. Darren provided the scammer with his tax agent’s number who was supposedly then dialled in by the scammer via a three-way conference call. A man by the name of Michael Grey answered claiming he was from the same practice as Darren’s tax agent. ‘Mr Grey’ said that Darren’s tax agent was in a meeting and not available. A fake conversation was had between Mr Grey and the original scammer with Mr Grey agreeing there was an error with Darren’s tax return and that he owed money to the ATO. Mr Grey told Darren to go to a specific location and pay the $9,000 today. Darren withdrew cash and deposited it into a Bitcoin machine.

What you can do:

Know the status of your tax affairs. If you are aware of the details of debts owed, refunds due and lodgments outstanding, you are less likely to fall victim to a scam. You can regularly check your details via myGov or by contacting us here at The Money Edge.

The Australian Taxation Office will never:

  • demand immediate payments
  • threaten you with arrest
  • request payment by unusual means such as iTunes vouchers, store gift cards or Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

If you are suspicious about a phone call from someone claiming to be the Australian Taxation Office, we recommend you disconnect and call 1800 008 540 to verify the call.

Alternatively, you can hang up the call and contact us here at The Money Edge directly to confirm the status of your tax affairs.

The Money Edge | Bundaberg

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