They are Back : Scams impersonating ATO staff to con Australians into transferring money or risk arrest

A scam involving fake calls from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) is back, this time telling victims they have committed fraud against the tax office.

The new method of initiating a three-way conversation between the scammer, the victim and another scammer impersonating the victim's tax agent is pushing victims to transfer money.

The caller also tells the victim that there is a warrant out for their arrest.

 
Queensland Police Financial and Cyber Crimes Group Detective Inspector Melissa Anderson said in the past year the ATO was notified about the scam more than 81,000 times.

"When you engage with these people it's hard to not give some of your personal information as their aim is to get you to be confident in them and feel pressured to part with your information," she said.

They build pressure and stress in the call an create urgency for payments to be made. Our advice is that you should hang up and ignore it.

When they get that information they can use it to exploit your bank accounts and take advantage of you.

What to listen out for

Detective Inspector Anderson said the ATO or other government offices ordinarily do not make cold calls.

Some of the tell-tale signs are when they tell people that cannot make alternative contact, as well as the reference to 'you're a good citizen of your country'. Not many people would use those words.

Don't let scammers push your buttons as they try and make you feel anxious and tell you that bad things will happen.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and that's a good sign that it's a scam.

Scammers will often try to get people to transfer money to their bank account first.

If that doesn't work for them there have been instances where scammers have met a victim and stand over them as they remove money from their account.

There is a risk there where they clone or copy your bank details and take money from your account.

She added that scammers are constantly changing the way they operate.

Previously we had scammers telling people to buy iTunes cards and now we've been affective with informing the public about those risks.

When we've investigated these scammers previously we've found the calls are coming out of Australia or originating overseas.

If you are suspicious hang up and don't let people take control of your computers.

How to protect yourself from scams:

If you receive a phone call or email out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the Commonwealth DPP 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.

Don't 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.

Never send 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.

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