Scammers are using the ATO name to fleece thousands of dollars from victims.
Scammers pretending to be from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is nothing new but in spite of repeated warnings by WA ScamNet and the ATO Western Australians still fall victim and sadly it can often be the more vulnerable members of our community.
Tax scam call warning
Have you ever wondered what a scam caller claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office actually sounds like? Here is a recording of one such robotic voicemail.
See our previous warnings below and remember to follow these steps if you get a call from someone claiming to be from the ATO:
- Firstly - confirm the caller’s name and title and why they are calling.
- Secondly - call the ATO switchboard on 13 28 69 and ask to be put through to the person who just called you.
- Finally, and most importantly, never send money or give financial details to someone you don’t know or trust.
2017 Tax avoidance / 'Delinquent' file
ScamNet received an email where a savvy consumer has recorded the scam message left on their phone asking for them to call a number with regards to outstanding tax. Do not call the number - just delete the message. Do not send any money. The ATO or any other government department would not contact you in this manner or use threats to make you pay a bill.
If you have been in touch with the scammers or have any concerns please contact WA ScamNet on 1300 304 054.
2011 Refund scam
In June 2011 Consumer Protection issued a media statement about 80-year-old Edna Sloan from Bunbury who had lost her life savings of $57,000 to overseas scammers, claiming she was the recipient of a grant of $7,000 from the ATO.
Like most of these scams, at first she was only asked to pay a small amount in comparison to the “tax refund” on offer. The method of payment was the preferred option of all scammers – by international wire transfer.
After the pensioner sent an initial $200 to Amat Saxena of India in order to obtain the “Australian Dermott Grant”, further requests for money came. Hear Edna's story.
The fraudsters had Edna convinced they were the ATO and took advantage of her innocent trusting nature. Edna says she didn’t have any reason to doubt them.
In the 12 months prior to Edna being scammed (June 2010-June 2011) Consumer Protection received more than a thousand reports from Western Australians who’d received calls from scammers claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office, other government departments, banks or official organisations.
How the scam works
The modus operandi is usually the same – a large amount of money waiting for them either because they had been overcharged, had a refund waiting to be collected, had been selected for a grant/funding, had a prize from a lottery they hadn’t entered or were the recipients of an inheritance.
The catch is the scammers ask for a smaller amount of money in fees which needs to be sent first before the larger amount can be released. This is referred to as an ‘advance fee fraud’.
No bank, organisation or government department will ask for money to be sent up front, particularly by wire transfer, before sending you funds you are legitimately entitled to. Sending money by wire transfer to people you don’t know is hazardous as, once collected, it can’t be recovered or traced.
Don’t forget cyber criminals use fake websites, bogus emails, automated phone messages and send professional-looking documents to make these scams look authentic. They also try to collect personal information in order to access your bank accounts.
Guard your personal information closely, change passwords regularly and do not trust website links are emailed to you – they can be a route to copycat sites.