“Low-life scammers” are doing the rounds once again, targeting elderly residents with threats of legal action and arrest.
The automated call, with a robotic man’s voice on the other end of the line, claims to come from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
ABC News has obtained a voicemail of the latest scam.
The recording missed the beginning to the call, but said:
” … from Australian Taxation Office, and your reference number is TX6972 as there is legal case going to be filed against your name including warrant for your arrest.
“Now before the case is sent for execution, and you receive the legal course of notification, you can call the taxation office on 02 8006 7570. The number again 02 8006 7570.
An internet search of the number found others who’ve received the same call recently.
“Threatening call demanding I return call to another telephone number advising that I had tax unpaid and it was a criminal matter and I would be arrested unless I called back,” one person said.
‼️SCAM ALERT‼️If you get a call from this number IGNORE IT! It’s scammers pretending to call from the ATO. They threaten legal action and a police warrant unless you call them back.Don’t do it! Just ignore.
“Claiming to be tax department. Obviously scam,” another said.
Unfortunately not everyone was able to see through the deceit.
“Had a panicked call from my 87-year-old father last week after getting a call from these guys,” Jason Stormy told ABC News.
“Stressed the old guy out a lot. I explained the situation to him but I think he is still waiting for a knock on the door.”
He wasn’t the only one.
Over the weekend, Queensland Police Service said elderly residents on the Gold Coast raised the alarm after receiving the same or similar call.
“Elderly residents in Runaway Bay are being targeted by low-life scammers claiming to be from the ATO who threaten them with ‘arrest’ if they don’t call a Sydney number & pay a ‘fine’,” police wrote on social media.
‘They quote laws that don’t exist’
According to the real ATO, this latest scam follows a similar one which ran in March.
A voicemail of that scam said:
“This call is just to inform you that there has been a lawsuit filed against your name concerning a tax evasion and this case is about to get registered in the Commonwealth Courthouse of your territory.
“So before the things go wrong against you or before the police officer from the local police department will approach you and issue a warrant for your arrest, kindly call us back on our call back number which is 02 8317 3564.
“I repeat, my telephone number again which is 02 8317 3564.
“Again this is Jason O’Connor from the Australian Taxation Office. Thank you and you have a wonderful day.”
ATO assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said the latest scams were nothing original and were simply rehashing old tactics.
“It seems that every time we shut one operation down, another operation opens up,” Ms Anderson said.
“They’re getting more clever in terms of tactics, they’re following different paths but essentially it’s the same sort of thing.
“What they’ve worked out is it they target more the elderly people who are at home a lot. Those people who don’t have a lot of contact with family and friends are a typical victim.
“They get in touch with those people and in a very threatening way entice them to hand over either money or iTunes cards. More recently we’ve seen Bitcoin requests as well.”
Ms Anderson herself once received a call from a scammer pretending to be from the ATO, so she played along.
“I got someone acting in a very official tone, who was telling me I owed money and needed to pay it immediately or the police would be sent around, that there’d be a warrant issued for my arrest,” she said.
“They then went on to quote sections of a law that doesn’t actually exist, but they made themselves sound quite formal about it.
“They had picked someone who knew the finance laws and tax laws, so I knew that wasn’t correct. But if I was someone who didn’t know that, I could quite easily be convinced by tone and words that they knew what they were talking about.”
In 2017 there were more than 80,000 scams reported to the ATO, with at least $2.5 million paid to scammers.
The year to date has seen around 12,000 scams reported.
Elderly residents in Runaway Bay are being targeted by low-life scammers claiming to be from the ATO who threaten them with 'arrest' if they don't call a Sydney number & pay a 'fine'. The Australian Taxation Office will NEVER do this. Please be aware & share with your elderly friends & family.
Posted by Queensland Police Service on Friday, April 20, 2018
Ms Anderson said the scams typically ramp up as the end of the financial year approaches, and again when tax debts are due in November.
Back in September a Queensland woman found a voice message on her home answering machine of a ‘robocall’ claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Days later a Brisbane man shared his own scam recording with ABC News.