Man Pays Fake Tax Agent $9000 in Bitcoin - ATO Bitcoin Scams

It is important to be aware of of the latest scams so you don't fall victim to them. In this latest Bitcoin scam a man was scammed out of $9000 worth of Bitcoins on a phone conversation with someone claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office.

September 2018 phone scam – fake tax agent

ATO impersonation scams reported by the community in September 2018 highlighted a new method of initiating a three-way conversation between the scammer, the victim, and another scammer impersonating the victim’s tax agent.

"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."

Bitcoin Scam Example

A scammer left a voicemail for Darren (not his real name) 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.

How to identify a scammer:

  • They will tell you a complaint has been made against you and you are committing tax fraud or claim that you have to pay a debt that you know nothing about.
  • They may threaten immediate arrest or court if you don't call them back or pay straight away.
  • They won't provide explanations or allow you to ask questions about the debt and often get aggressive or abusive.
  • They will ask you to pay using unusual methods of payment that the ATO does not use such as iTunes, Bitcoin cryptocurrency, store gift cards or pre-paid visa cards.
  • They may offer a tax refund but you have to provide a personal credit card number for the funds to be deposited into. They don’t deposit money but instead steal funds from these cards without the knowledge of the cardholder. The ATO does not issue refunds to credit cards.

The ATO also states "It's OK to hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or report a scam."

For more informaition visit the official Australian Tax Office Scam Alerts page: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Online-services/Identity-security/Scam-alerts