I’m about to be arrested

I just received a phone call from the ATO advising me that I needed to make an immediate payment to avoid arrest.

This is a scam – the ATO would never call in advance. They would just come and arrest you.

Okay – that’s meant to be funny.

More seriously – beware of a scams like this.

While these scam calls may appear to be from the ATO with a spoofed caller ID, it is important to remember that a legitimate caller from the ATO will never:

  • threaten you with arrest
  • demand immediate payment, particularly through unusual means such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or gift cards
  • refuse to allow you to speak with a trusted advisor or your regular tax agent
  • or present a phone number on caller ID.

Never call a scammer back on the number they provide.

If you are in any doubt about an ATO call hang up and phone us on 1800 008 540 to check if the call was legitimate or report a scam.

 

This entry was posted in Gratuitous Advertising, Rule of law, Taking out the trash, Taxation. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to I’m about to be arrested

  1. Graham Jose

    It is worth noting that very few companies will ever call you unsolicited The only exception I’ve found is banks when you’re late with a credit card payment and even with those I am reticent to confirm my identity to an unsolicited caller. I usually just hang up and pay the outstanding amount!

  2. Dr Fred Lenin

    This must be stamoed out quickly , it is destroying the caring ,generous reputation of the ATO and must be traumatising the sensitive staff there.

  3. stackja

    Robotic Nicole from the NBN.
    And the cold call from Sub Continent fellows from Telstra.
    And the Sub Continent fellows from ‘The Do Not Call Register’

  4. Fred

    Centrelink are chasing me for $140 for a Robo Debt from 2011. I refuse to pay.

    I got a phone call from a Centrelink staffer threatening me with garnishee notices to my employer and my bank and placing a travel ban on me.

    I told him I would lodge a complaint against him and he replied “You can complain to whoever you like”.

    So its a bit rich for the ATO to claim that they would never ring and threaten people. Same government.

  5. nfw

    One year my accountant and I put an incredibly small amount, I think it was $75 in the wrong part of the tax form, thereby understating my income in another part by the same amount. As there were no franking credits involved it was a zero sum game, ie it didn’t matter whether it was a dividend or interest payment it was still declared. I received a nasty letter from the ATO threatening me with all sorts of punishments. The error was quickly fixed but the accountant did notice an overstating of income elsewhere so we claimed that. I never did receive a letter from the ATO thanking me for overstating my income. They were probably too busy at equity and diversity training learning how to give more to muslim charities or handing out millions to the Clinton Scam, er I mean Foundation, that day.

  6. Leo G

    And the cold call from Sub Continent fellows from Telstra.

    I’ve had many of these since the anticipated NBN availabilty was announced.
    At first, the calls appeared to have no purpose. Subsequently, they included a fake transfer option to a “technician”. Finally, the technician would clarify. The wanted me to agree to starting a service contract for the NBN with a particular provider.
    The apparent intent of the earlier calls was to create disaffection with the Telstra service (not a difficult task really).

  7. Rafe Champion

    Name, rank and serial number Doomlord, don’t tell them anything else.
    Not where the treasure is buried.
    Not who is your mole in the ATO.
    Not whether you have stopped beating your wife.
    Not what team you barrack for.
    Not your religion.
    Not how come you travel so much and drink so much good wine.
    And above all not the name of your blog.

  8. hzhousewife

    My most recent scam was a letter a couple of weeks ago explaining that our Business Registration was due after 3 years for eg $100. I always check last account paid (thank you Quickbooks), which led me to prior bill of under $50. Sure enough this week the bona fide entity emails an account for the past dollar amount plus a few more. I suspect thousands of small businessess fall for that one.

  9. Percy Popinjay

    I received legitimate correspondence from the ATO back in 2010 stating that as I had not responded to several previous letters demanding taxation in advance (due to my earning a large amount of interest in the previous financial year) that if I did not make immediate payment they would simply remove the amount demanded from my bank account. The amount was in the vicinity of $6,000.

    Turns out the monumental f*ckwits had incorrectly transcribed my address and had been sending the correspondence there. It was just dumb luck that the letter of demand was delivered to the correct address.

    So yes, they can threaten you with immediate recovery of overdue payments, but in writing (this practice may have changed since the incident described above).

  10. John Bayley

    Cases have been reported where the alleged ATO representative advised the victim that s/he could pay the outstanding debt via iTune cards.
    Believe it or not, some people actually complied.
    With such even such crazy schemes catching the odd fish that will pay, it’s no wonder the scammers call non-stop. Even with 1 out of a thousand falling for it, the payoff is worth it to them.
    I do doubt that this can be stopped – clearly a fool and his money is easily separated.

  11. Squirrel

    There’s much to be said for using an answering machine to screen landline calls.

    It might cause mild annoyance to genuine callers, but the scammers and other pests usually hang up without even leaving a b/s message – so satisfying.

  12. Your internet will be disconnected! I think we were getting those about once a week for a while earlier this year. Now I’m starting to get scam calls on my mobile and they’re coming from privately listed numbers so I can’t block them.

  13. The BigBlueCat

    My advice is (regarding cold calls), answer only with hello and wait for the caller to identify themselves and their purpose for calling. I have heard that some of these scam calls are aimed to get you to say your name and certain key phrases like “yes”, “no”, “I accept”, your address, etc that can be used in identity theft scams.

    And so … I don’t want your mortgage, solar panels, phone plan, energy plan, car maintenance plan or threats from the ATO (they are more than able to do their own threats via my accountant). Don’t call me from India or the Philippines or even from down the road. Don’t turn up to my door either. If I want your business, I’ll ask!

  14. Percy:

    I received legitimate correspondence from the ATO back in 2010 stating that as I had not responded to several previous letters demanding taxation in advance (due to my earning a large amount of interest in the previous financial year) that if I did not make immediate payment they would simply remove the amount demanded from my bank account. The amount was in the vicinity of $6,000.

    If we all had accounts and no cash, they’d just take your money and dare you to get it back.
    It’s worrying.

  15. My advice is (regarding cold calls), answer only with hello and wait for the caller to identify themselves and their purpose for calling.

    The majority of such calls come on our landline (yes, we still have one) and it’s on an answering machine that we don’t answer unless the caller identifies themselves. Oddly, the caller always hangs up. And yes, I never answer yes if a caller says my name, I always ask who’s calling. Anyone that calls me and doesn’t identify themselves first is a scammer or a bloody rude caller representing some business.

  16. Davey Boy

    Was on a ‘secure’ telephone conference call which needed a PIN to join it, when a call described in this article burst in, to the surprise of all in attendance.

    Noted the calling number, time etc of the intruding call, and submitted a security incident report. Was eventually called back by someone from the company’s security area, a gentleman with a Chinese name incidentally, whose finding was “it was probably just a wrong number” (didn’t seem to register with him that the “wrong number” also needed a PIN to join the conference). “Nothing to worry about”.

    It was only afterwards doing my own research that I found the article linked above, which was a perfect match to the scenario.

  17. Sinclair Davidson

    There’s much to be said for using an answering machine to screen landline calls.

    The call was to my mobile. I don’t have a landline.

  18. Ellie

    Captivating headline. It caught my attention.

  19. Kurt

    I was in a Sydney police station front office about 6 months ago when I got started talking to a backpacker from Brazil. He was in a panic over this scam. They said he had to pay $x in taxes within a couple of days or he’d be deported. Somehow they seem to be targeting backpackers. I put him at ease but he was shaken up about it. Pretty disgusting.

  20. Nob

    According to my vast array of contacts in the international fraudster community, Australians are considered to be the easiest marks in the Anglosphere.

    (Germans and Scandis otherwise – it’s a feature of high-trust societies).

    Don’t give money to any unsolicited caller.
    Don’t click on a link they give you or call a number they give you.
    Look these up independently if you think it might be legit.

    You’re not obliged to answer questions from an unsolicited approach, even for politeness.
    Adopt a “Ve vill ask ze questions!” approach.

    I do a fair bit of business by cold calling or answering cold call enquiries so I’m not totally against it but bonafides need to be established quickly.

  21. rickw

    I received legitimate correspondence from the ATO back in 2010 stating that as I had not responded to several previous letters demanding taxation in advance (due to my earning a large amount of interest in the previous financial year) that if I did not make immediate payment they would simply remove the amount demanded from my bank account. The amount was in the vicinity of $6,000.

    I had a legitimate call from ATO two weeks ago, similar situation to above. Got a reference number and handed it over to accountant.

  22. Empire 5:5

    I got the robocall on mobile VM twice, so I went digging.

    The caller ID checked out as a legit ACT ATO number.

    Next time I took the call. The operative was pretty slick, but his Filipino American accent was suss. He got heavy with the threats, but once pressed on knowledge of APS, he folded like the proverbial. Then I turned the blow torch on him until he hung up. My only concern was the data he already had. These guys mine hard.

    Next step was tracing the caller ID. The number belonged to an ATO IT dude. He followed through and got back to me. It isn’t good. The scammers are ghosting legit ATO numbers. The ATO won’t disconnect those numbers because they are in use. Last word is their cyber security team are trying trace the call originator.

  23. Empire 5:5

    The deal was 10 large now or risk 10 years in the big house and 100 large later.

  24. Empire 5:5

    I was in a Sydney police station front office about 6 months ago when I got started talking to a backpacker from Brazil. He was in a panic over this scam. They said he had to pay $x in taxes within a couple of days or he’d be deported. Somehow they seem to be targeting backpackers. I put him at ease but he was shaken up about it. Pretty disgusting.

    I wonder about the data they have. Everyone I know who’s had a call uses an agent and has an outstanding debt or late return.

  25. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    Nob
    #3053420, posted on June 25, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    According to my vast array of contacts in the international fraudster community, Australians are considered to be the easiest marks in the Anglosphere.

    (Germans and Scandis otherwise – it’s a feature of high-trust societies

    No I think you are totally wrong. Why do scammers originate in India and Nigeria? I have worked with Indians who have been scammed. They fear authority.

    Because their countrymen are easy marks.

    Australia is a high-trust country?

    Lawyer X, Fitgerald Inquiry, Chook Fowler, Bobby Askin…and that’s from the time we were an “adult” sovereign country.

  26. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    Percy Popinjay
    #3053277, posted on June 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I received legitimate correspondence from the ATO back in 2010 stating that as I had not responded to several previous letters demanding taxation in advance (due to my earning a large amount of interest in the previous financial year) that if I did not make immediate payment they would simply remove the amount demanded from my bank account. The amount was in the vicinity of $6,000.

    We do not live in a democracy. We do not live in a nation of laws. We do not have the rule of law. We do not have a right to a fair trial. We do not have the right to secure private property. We do not have a right to natural justice or due process.

    Do not forget.

  27. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    This is a scam – the ATO would never call in advance

    Not quite.

    It has happened to me once and I refused to engage with them thinking it was bullshit so they ended up sending a letter anyway and I called them.

  28. iggie

    Anyone had an email from GCWeb asking to pay a $1000+ invoice? All very chummy with a name and phone numbers but never heard of them, let alone bought anything from them.
    Deleted it straight away.

  29. Empire 5:5

    Here’s what doesn’t jibe with me. If the ATO knows the scammers are ghosting their phones they should refer to ASD, who would be able to identify the originator and location. The scam has been in op for some time.

    Why hasn’t it been shut down?

  30. mareeS

    We get these, so do our kids. I tell them to open nothing online, if people want to find you,maybe the will, maybe they won’t. Best not.

  31. Wallace

    What about the annual IP renewal invoice from a SEO provider, very professionally presented, payment due now!
    On close reading you will find ‘pro-forma’ in the fine print.

    A well executed email scam. Do not put it in the “to pay” tray.

  32. Nob

    Frank Walker from National Tiles
    #3053494, posted on June 25, 2019 at 7:39 pm
    Nob
    #3053420, posted on June 25, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Australia is a high-trust country?

    Yes, the average middle class punter is.

  33. mh

    I received legitimate correspondence from the ATO back in 2010 stating that as I had not responded to several previous letters demanding taxation in advance (due to my earning a large amount of interest in the previous financial year) that if I did not make immediate payment they would simply remove the amount demanded from my bank account. The amount was in the vicinity of $6,000.

    Pay as you go instalment (PAYGI) activity statements will auto finalise as per the ATOs given instalment amount when that is the only activity statement role. So the liability becomes outstanding at that point. If you don’t have the untaxed instalment income anymore you can always vary down the instalment amount.

  34. J.H.

    Oh, yeah…. Robotic Nicole from the NBN(subcontinental branch:) telling me I’m about to be cut off from the Internets if I don’t call, blah, blah, blah, Press 1 for……. After three phone calls that day, I politely informed robotic Nicole from the NBN(subcontinental branch:)….. to go suck my dictionary.

    Damn sick of these Microsoft, NBN, Solar rebate, Subcontinent cold call scams. Always when you are right in the middle of something….. It’s freakin’ Nicole again.

  35. John Barr

    Nah. I like to keep the Scammers on the Phone for as long as I can. I got lots of stories I spin them. I like the one where I’ve got a Virus. So I tell them I’ve fixed it I just sprayed Gen 20 in the Computer. Or, If I got Bugs, I’ve sprayed with Surface spray. to kill them. T like the refund one. The are giving the lady down the road a bit more than me. so I want a bigger one. They have to send a Cheque to my Post Box because I don’t have enough money for a Bank Account. “My son works for Telstra in the Scam department can you give me you number & he’ll call you.” Or “I’m from Microsoft.” “Good, well while your here you can tell me how to… No, I not paying, It’s your program & it’s fucked,so you fix the bloody thing, What’s you name, get me the Supervisor.” OMG, I love having fun.

  36. Fascinoma

    I had a similar robocall a couple of weeks ago. The strange part was that it came a few minutes after a legit call from the ATO. I called the number that Sinc listed above to report it and confirm that the first call was real, but there wasn’t much interest.

  37. faceache

    ” Can I have your ABN number please”. They hang up.

  38. faceache

    They also hang up to “You are an evil little turd”

  39. Iampeter

    I just received a phone call from the ATO advising me that I needed to make an immediate payment to avoid arrest.

    This is a scam – the ATO would never call in advance. They would just come and arrest you.

    Many of us would forget to do our taxes if not for these scam phone calls giving us a reminder.
    Oh it’s that scam call again. Better do my taxes this year before it becomes real.

    So it kinda serves a useful purpose…

  40. Farmer Gez

    The female of the species.
    Dearest purchased a fruit loaf of yesterday and was looking forward to the results at breakfast.
    I watched her put the slices in and fiddle with the toasting controls whilst yacking away to the teen daughters.
    The result was two black pieces of toast and then the statement to me “Did you change the toaster setting?”

  41. Kurt

    Frank Walker from National Tiles
    #3053494, posted on June 25, 2019 at 7:39 pm
    Nob
    #3053420, posted on June 25, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Australia is a high-trust country?

    Yes, the average middle class punter is.

    I agree. We are very much a high trust society. Nearly all successful societies are. Usually people who doubt this haven’t travelled widely (or only superficially as a tourist) or are ideologues.

    In our society honesty is valued. It is not considered ‘smart’ if your cheat the government or ‘dumb’ i. e vulnerable people. This is a feature of socially cohesive societies. But of course as our social cohesion disintegrates so too are our levels of trust. Wonder what could have cause it?

  42. Kneel

    Nah. I like to keep the Scammers on the Phone for as long as I can.

    Me too – and send them on a never ending quest to speak to the the “right” person.

    I favour:

    * “Oh, you need to talk to Bill – sorry, he’s not in today, you’ll have to call back.” Best laugh ever when they call and say “I was talking to Bill…” – genuine scammer! And during the Sydney olympics, we were telling people Bill’s last name was “Tell” (in case you missed it, Bill Tell = William Tell) and that he was practicing for his archery of the Australian olympic team. One even said they’d look out for him…

    * Let ’em go through the whole pitch, then say “I’m not interested in saving money” – their script never has a response for someone who cares not for saving money, so they just say “oh… ummm… OK, bye” (assuming they don’t just hang up)

  43. a reader

    I had fun with the ATO one. I started asking them for their postcode and then I started up making facts about the APS and when they told me they were in Canberra I pointed out (facetiously) that the claims division of the ATO was in Brisbane. They never rang back

  44. John A

    Winston Smith #3053329, posted on June 25, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Percy:

    I received legitimate correspondence from the ATO back in 2010 stating that as I had not responded to several previous letters demanding taxation in advance (due to my earning a large amount of interest in the previous financial year) that if I did not make immediate payment they would simply remove the amount demanded from my bank account. The amount was in the vicinity of $6,000.

    If we all had accounts and no cash, they’d just take your money and dare you to get it back.
    It’s worrying.

    Damn right it is.

    Latest legit thing from the ATO is called STP = “Single Touch Payroll”.

    Great for businesses paying employees as they no longer have to prepare a Group Certificate (whatever it’s called now), because their payroll software is required to report every employee’s details after each pay run.

    How do employees find out how much tax has been deducted and how much super was paid by their employer? Oh, they have to have or open a “MyGov account” at the ATO, of course. If they choose not to, then the data still goes to the ATO but a Group Certificate is required to be sent to them.

    My latest CPA magazine tells the glowing story about how efficiency will be improved all around. Almost as a footnote, comes the comment, “The ATO is still trying to get its collective head around all the new data, so they are not going to share it with Centrelink for now.”!!

    And they want to ban cash…

  45. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    Here’s what doesn’t jibe with me. If the ATO knows the scammers are ghosting their phones they should refer to ASD, who would be able to identify the originator and location. The scam has been in op for some time.

    Why hasn’t it been shut down?

    The same with child porn.

    Sure they catch Aussie idiots who download it, but not the overseas sites? It is obviously a diplomatic issue. I don’t mean to sound conspiratorial but I would bet that well connected organised crime in Russia controls a lot of it.

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