South Australian Police are currently investigating an audacious tax scam involving two men impersonating federal officers who tried to extort money from an Adelaide couple.
On Monday, the Salisbury Downs victim received an automated phone message telling him he had a tax debt and a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
The victim suspected a scam and rang the number back and terminated the call without providing any details.
About half an hour later, two men appeared at the door of the victim’s Salisbury Downs home, wearing blue jackets emblazoned with “Federal Police” and identified themselves as police officers.
They told the victim he had a tax debt and produced an EFTPOS machine.
According to the police, the victim challenged the men to produce identification, prompting them to run off.
SA Police have described the two men as of Indian subcontinental and Asian appearance, one aged in late 20s, the other in his 40s with an American accent.
“A quick call to the ATO confirmed there was no outstanding tax debt and the victim immediately reported the matter to police. No money was stolen,” said SA Police in a statement.
“Northern District CIB detectives are investigating and ask anyone who saw the two men at Salisbury Downs yesterday or have experienced any similar incidents to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”
The Tax Office previously said it commonly sees a spike in scammers during tax time and has seen a particular rise in ATO impersonation scams over the past year.
“We see ATO impersonation scams by phone, email and SMS, with the most commonly reported scam being a phone call claiming that there are outstanding tax debts and threatening people with arrest if the debt is not paid immediately,” an ATO spokesperson told Accountants Daily.
ATO scam reports peaked at 39,025 reports during November 2018, with the total number of scams for 2018 at 114,625.
In the first quarter of 2019, the ATO received 40,225 reports of impersonation scams with just over $1 million in losses.
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commissioner projects scam losses to exceed $532 million by the end of the year, surpassing half a billion dollars for the first time.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.