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  • September 2018 ATO impersonation scam report

    In the September 2018 ATO impersonation scam report:

    • 8,859 scam reports were officially recorded this month, with 1,954 scam emails reported to reportemailfraud@ato.gov.au.
    • $371,766 was reported as being paid to scammers, with bitcoin ATM deposits accounting for 50% of payments. Payments via gift cards increased by over $64,000.
    • Clients who provided scammers with their personal identifying information (PII) totalled 46%.

    Monthly comparison

     Chart 1 shows a comparison between email and phone reports received each month to date in 2018. The number of emails reported: January 1,461; February 1,362; March 3,850; April 1,568; May1,349; June 1,268, July 1,135, August 686, September 1,954. The number of phone calls reported: January 1,358; February 1,718; March 2,101; April 1,809; May 1,132; June 2,303, July 2,900, August 3,680, September 6,905.

    Delivery methods

     Chart 2 shows a comparison between the most popular channels scammers used to contact people in September 2018. Of those reported, phone calls or voice messages accounted for 80%; email accounted for 19%; and text message 1%.

    Payment methods

     Chart 3 shows the total amount paid, method of payment and number of people who paid scammers in September 2018. Twenty-one people paid $54,529 into bank accounts; four paid $9,969 via credit card; 18 paid $189,398 via bitcoin; 11 paid $25,200 via iTunes; 18 paid $64,170 via a gift card; two paid $5,500 via Load & Go; and five paid $23,000 via a different method.

    What we're doing

    Scammers have a new scam method where they initiate a three-way conversation between a scammer, a victim, and another scammer impersonating the victim’s tax agent. This is an attempt to legitimise the call and trick the recipient into believing they have an outstanding debt to pay. Multiple clients paid over $85,000 in September as a result of this scam.

    We regularly review reports submitted to us by the public, and we quickly alerted the community about this scam via a media release, web content, and social media posts (FacebookExternal Link, TwitterExternal Link, and LinkedInExternal Link).

    In addition, Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson appeared on the SunriseExternal Link and A Current AffairExternal Link television programs to discuss the scam.

    We believe our actions in quickly publicising this scam led to increased reports about it from the community, and in turn to less money being scammed than would otherwise have been the case. Monitoring of the scam will continue, and we'll issue more alerts if required.

    Next step:

    See also:

    Last modified: 26 Nov 2018QC 57467