Scammers seem to find any possible outlet to steal the cryptocurrency of investors. Twitter has been the biggest opportunity for these frauds to get through, but Australia has found that the hackers are finding a new method of tricking consumers – Bitcoin ATMs. To help protect the public, the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) published a warning on November 14th, saying that scammers are requiring users to make tax payments through BTC ATMs.
When TheNextWeb reported on this issue, they commented that scam artists in this region are “notorious” and that their biggest ploy is the retribution of false debts to the government. Most of the cases involve either threats of arrest or deportation. The Assistant Commissioner for the ATO, Kath Anderson, spoke more on this issue, saying that the fraudulent taxation payment requests and other suspicious activity has been on the rise. Anderson added a simple request for “Australians to be on high alert for tax scams.”
Earlier this year, in the spring, the regulator has warned citizens already that the scammers were trying to pull fax tax debt payments from them. At the time, when it was reported on March 16th, they were trying to get customers to pay out these “debts” with a variety of different cryptocurrencies. In fact, the requests for BTC now exceed their requests for other forms of payment, like gift cards. However, the biggest concern at the moment is that citizens are providing too much of their personal information in the process, which puts them at a greater vulnerability.
Based on the November 18th report, there have been over 28,000 scam attempts in the last four months. So far, there has been nearly $1 million paid to scammers, who often ask to be paid in either BTC or iTunes gift cards. Anderson commented:
“That’s just not how we do business. […] November is a prime time for scammers as they know lots of people have tax bills to pay. Be wary if someone contacts you demanding payment of a tax debt you didn’t know you owed.”
Continuing, Anderson said:
“Your identifying information like tax file numbers, bank account numbers or your date of birth are the keys to your identity and can be used by scammers to break into your life if they are compromised. If you’ve received an unsolicited email or text, or if you have any doubts about whether any contact is legitimately from the ATO, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to check. Scammers have been known to impersonate tax agents too it’s recommended that you hang up and call your agent direct on a number you have sourced independently.”
The official press release said that there are five top signs that citizens can watch out for, which are:
- Aggressive or abusive interactions
- Threats of immediate arrest
- Requesting unusual payment methods, like prepaid cards
- Requesting personal information, like bank details and tax file numbers
- Requesting additional funds to submit a refund
On September 20th, CoinTelegraph reported that there was already a warning from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) regarding “misleading” initial coin offerings (ICOs) and crypto-asset funds. The targeted audience, at the time, was retail investors.