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Scammers target ATO in sophisticated schemes


Fraudsters are continuing to use government agencies as scam shields, and professionals have been warned that the scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harder to detect. 

By Lara Bullock 11 minute read

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chair Dr Michael Schaper told Accountants Daily that scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Government agencies such as the ATO have always been targeted by scammers, but the methods that scammers are using are becoming increasingly less obvious than in previous years, due in part to the variety of digital mechanisms that can be used to contact professionals and tax agents. 

“We continue to see a range of government agencies being punitively used as scam shields. For example, the ATO is one of them, but we've also seen them from social security agencies like Centrelink and such,” Dr Schaper said.


“One of the interesting trends, especially in terms of the ATO, is the increasing use of apparent fake reply email addresses looking more and more closer to the real thing. You have to actually drill down a bit to realise that it’s not real.”

“So we are seeing that sophistication and unfortunately that doesn’t surprise me.”

ASIC appears to be the latest facade of choice for scammers recently, with the watchdog issuing a warning earlier this week about scam emails purporting to be from ASIC.

“We are aware some customers have received emails containing attachments or links to fake invoices,” the release read.

“Fake emails may look different to ASIC emails and generally instruct the recipient to click a link to make a payment or download an invoice.”

ASIC warned that scammers can then use viruses, spyware or malware programs to access or steal customers' personal information.

ASIC commissioner John Price said: “Scam emails often appear at busy times of the year such as holiday and tax time, when it's easy to overlook something suspicious.”

Lara Bullock


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