The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is warning taxpayers to be aware of scammers impersonating the Tax Office and demanding cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin as payment for fake tax debts.
The ATO became aware of these fraudsters late last year with over $50,000 paid in Bitcoin to scammers claiming fake ATO debts. Once scammers receive payment, it is virtually impossible to recover it as cryptocurrency operates in a digital world.
The ATO is also warning taxpayers to be wary of other tax scams such as those demanding direct deposits into third-party bank accounts, demanding payment via iTunes cards or with a prepaid Visa gift card.
Over 80,000 scams were reported to the ATO in 2017, accounting for almost $2.4 million lost to scammers impersonating the ATO.
Almost one-third of victims were targeted with iTunes gift card scams, resulting in over $900,000 lost to scammers. More than half of all losses (roughly $1.2 million) were from deposits or transfers made directly into third-party bank accounts.
Scammers are also targeting taxpayers’ personal information with many reports of scammers asking for an individual’s Tax File Number.