Migrants in Australia should beware of tax scammers


Scammers in Australia are targeting vulnerable migrants by posing as people from the ATO (Australian Tax Office).

As per reports, the scam is similar to the one that surfaced last year. In this scam, unsuspecting migrants were tricked into making cryptocurrency payments for bogus tax debts.

The scam had become so rampant that Kath Anderson, Asst. Commissioner of ATO had to issue a warning. As per Anderson, the ATO became aware that scammers were asking for Bitcoin payments last year. More than $50,000 in Bitcoin payments have been made so far for fake tax debts. Payments made in cryptocurrencies are impossible to get back since they operate in the virtual world.

Many new migrants in Australia have limited English skills. They are also unfamiliar with Australian laws. These people fall easy prey to such scammers and hence they should be on their guard.

ATO Officials never contact anyone asking for cryptocurrency payments. However, scammers often use phone numbers which appear to be genuine.

As per SBS News, ATO received over 80,000 reports of the scam in 2017. Almost $2.4 million was lost to scammers who claimed to be ATO officials.

Almost one-third of the victims paid over $900,000 worth of iTunes gift cards to scammers. Apple is now including a warning on the iTunes gift cards. ATO officials hope that people will realize that the ATO does not accept iTunes gift cards as payment.

More than half of the victims were scammed into making payments into third-party bank accounts. These victims thus lost almost $1.2 million in 2017 this way.

ATO has requested the people in Australia to beware of tax scammers. They should report such requests to the local authorities immediately.

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Anshul Singhal

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