Beware of Fraudsters Demanding Tax Debts in Bitcoin, Australia’s Taxman Warns
The nefarious activities of scammers impersonating tax officials and demanding that tax debts be paid in bitcoin and via other “unusual” channels has now come to light. The Australia’s taxman has now warned citizens against the activities of these scammers.
The Australian Tax Office said these scammers are threatening to get the federal police to send Australians to jail if their tax debts were not paid urgently. In substantiating this report, the tax authority cited a case of Darren (real names withheld) who was contacted by a fraudster telling him that he owed the tax man AU$ 9, 000, threatening that the sum be paid immediately or Darren will risk a five years jail time.
To clear thing up, Daren was said to have given the contact details of his tax agent to the scammer who called conveniently. Darren’s tax agent was found to be in a meeting. However, there was another individual named Grey who purportedly worked in the same practice and who offered to assist. Grey then ‘corroborated’ the fraudster’s claims.
Australia’s tax authority noted that a fake conversation was initiated between Grey and the original scammer with Grey agreeing there was an error with Darren’s tax return and that he owed money to the tax man. Grey told Darren to go to a specific location and pay the $9,000 immediately. Darren withdrew cash and deposited it into a Bitcoin [ATM] machine, ATO wrote on their website.
Darren’s and many other victim’s experience will not be the first time the tax man is sounding a warning against fraudsters who now collect such payments via cryptocurrencies. At some time in March, the ATO warned against artists who were posing as employees of the tax authority. At the time it was estimated that the fraudsters had collected bitcoin more than AUD$50,000 from their victims in a scheme that had started in 2017.
Kath Anderson, ATO’s assistant commissioner had said then that they, “became aware of scammers seeking payment in Bitcoin last year,” Kath Anderson, ATO’s assistant commissioner, said then.
“So far, we have seen over $50,000 paid in Bitcoin to scammers claiming fake ATO tax debts.”
The renewed operations ATO say is not only done via bitcoin but by also demanding ‘tax debts’ to be paid in other unusual methods such as iTunes balance, pre-paid visa cards and store gift cards. The ATO said citizens can avoid being conned by staying informed about the activities of the tax office to have a clear knowledge of the ‘debts owed and avoid being scammed.