Telephone calls alleging fake legal action by Tax Office used to scam money

A warning consumers to be aware of calls from scammers falsely claiming to be from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) or Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Scammers have recently been calling Australians telling them that there is a legal action being taken against them for Tax offences, the call is done using a computer generated voice message urging the alleged offender directed to call a number back to make arrangements. Several calls to people in the Moreton Bay Region has already raised a few eyebrows.

It is important to realise that in reality the ATO says We would never cold call you about a debt, we would never threaten jail or arrest, and our staff certainly wouldnt behave in an aggressive manner, this should be the first trigger to simply hang up the phone

Part of the message is they ask you to call during office hours to discuss the matter further. However, the telephone number has no connection with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, Australian Taxation Office or any other state or commonwealth department.

The scammers may spin a range of stories about why an legal action i, including that you have failed to pay taxes.

Scammers typically ask for money to be sent via wire transfer as its nearly impossible to recover money sent this way. They may also ask for peoples financial and other personal details to access their money and use this information to commit other scams.

Major accounting firm H&R Block has warned people to beware of scammers as the end of the month deadline for tax returns draws near.

H&R Block said that over the past few days it had received multiple reports of scammers phoning taxpayers and claiming they were being audited.

They have been asked to call numbers with a 02 area code, but the numbers appear to be diverted to a mobile phone.

The callers are then told the Australian Tax Office will visit their homes to do an audit the next day unless tax payments are made immediately.

Sydney public relations consultant Tim Allerton said he had received an "aggressive" call from a man claiming to be a senior manager from the tax office.

H&R Block said it called the numbers and the scammers said they were from the ATO investigations unit, a unit which does not exist, and the scammers hung up when asked about their ATO credentials.

Director of tax communications with H&R Block, Mark Chapman, said scammers had stepped up their activities as the tax return deadline of October 31 approached.

"We've noticed a significant change in the way they try to defraud people," he said.

"Instead of offering refunds, they've opted to intimidate people into paying non-existent tax debts.

"This latest scam appears to be rife at the moment, with multiple reports coming in from across Australia."

Mr Chapman said the ATO would not suddenly call to do an audit at short notice.

"ATO compliance processes are thorough and measured, and if the ATO have an issue with your return they will write to you or your tax agent first, politely requesting any additional information," he said.

"If you receive one of these scam calls, hang up. Don't under any circumstances pay any money or provide bank account or credit card details."

Mr Chapman said fraudsters might have obtained tax file numbers and other forms of identification and anyone receiving such a call should report the matter to the ATO.

The ATO said the aggressive phone scam had been going around since April when it first warned taxpayers about it.

It said fraudsters were intimidating people into paying a fake tax debt over the phone by threatening jail or arrest.

Taxpayers can check with the tax office whether calls are genuine by calling 13 28 69.

Be on guard, if you receive a phone call from someone saying you have an arrest warrant and asking you to pay a fee, hang up and do not respond. If in doubt, dont use the contact details provided - look up the government department or organisation yourself in the phone book or online and phone or email them.

How these scams work

You receive a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions or the Australian Taxation Office.

The call may sound like it is an automated message with an American accent.
The caller or sender will claim that you have an arrest warrant for some reason.
The scammer will ask you to telephone a number that appears to be Australian but is likely to be a VOIP number.
One of the numbers reported is 02 6100 3027. This is not the correct number for the CDPP.
The scammer will tell you that in order to resolve the matter you will need to pay a fee.
You may also be asked to provide your bank account details or other personal information so they can confirm they have the right person.
If you send any money via wire transfer, you will never see it again ? its nearly impossible to recover money sent this way. You will also never receive the promised rebate or refund.
If you provide your bank account details or other personal information, the scammer may use it to commit identity theft or to steal your money.

Protect yourself

If you receive a phone call or email out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions or Australian Taxation Office telling you about an arrest warrant, hang up.
If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a government department, contact the body directly. Dont rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller ? find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
The CDPP is advising people to be vigilant when receiving phone calls of this nature and if in doubt about the authenticity of a call that you receive from the CDPP, contact them on one of the publically listed phone numbers (link is external) or email inquiries@cdpp.gov.au (link sends e-mail).
Never send any money via wire transfer to anyone you do not know or trust.
Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the SCAMwatch report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.

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