The poor audio quality, the bad grammar, the mispronunciations — one of the latest scams doing the rounds in Australia is so bad it’s almost laughable.
This past week, a Queensland woman found a voice message on her home answering machine, with a female robotic voice telling the resident she was from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
“We have received an affidavit against your name where you are being listed as a primary suspect, and your house is under surveillance [pronounced sur-vur-lance],” the recording said.
There were a number of clues, including the “affidavit against your name”, suggesting this one was a scam.
A quick internet search shows many saw right through it:
“Recorded mess from tax dept, house under surveillance, affidavit logged bla bla bla another scam” — Glen
Someone else said they called the number back.
“[He] gave his name as Hoffman and said he was from the Tax Fraud Dept. He wanted my name and the mobile number on which I received the call. When I refused to give personal details without knowing the reason for the call he told me to ‘get lost’ and hung up” — Lynne
ATO assistant tax commissioner Kath Anderson said there were some obvious signs when it came to identifying scams.
“The main thing is we don’t threaten people. We don’t send the police around, we don’t threaten prosecution,” she said.
“The ATO has a scamline — 1800 008 540. That’s where you can call the ATO and talk to them about the call received.
“We’ll let you know if it’s genuine, and if it is we’ll put you in contact with the right person in [the] ATO.”
Ms Anderson said phone scams were the most common.
“The scams really take off from the start of July. We see them right through to the end of tax time at the end of October,” she said.
“It’s because a lot of people are interacting with the tax office in their once-a-year interaction, and the scammers know that.”