Australians have been urged to stay alert against scam after a retired Sydney nurse was scammed out of $15,000 in February.
The 66-year-old woman reportedly received a phone call from another woman claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
In a statement, NSW police said investigators had been told the women threatened the retired nurse with arrest. The Sydney woman was then transferred to a male speaker who claimed to be a police officer.
Over the course of several hours, the woman ultimately withdrew $15,000 from her account. That same day, a man visited the woman at her Randwick home. The retired nurse was able to take a photo of him before she gave him the money.
The woman then reported the incident to the police, leading detectives to arrest a 21-year-old man on Friday.
He was charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and refused bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court on Saturday.
Scammers on the rise: how to protect yourself
Australians have already lost $43 million to scams in 2021, with the Government’s Scamwatch receiving more than 40,000 reports of scams in January and February.
At this time last year, Australians had lost $22 million to scams.
The ATO has also warned of a spike in calls from scammers impersonating the ATO.
These scammers claim they’ve suspended their target’s tax file number due to suspected fraudulent activity. Victims are then tricked into clearing out their bank accounts entirely.
“While the number of people paying these scammers is low, the large amounts being lost per person is alarming,” Assistant Commissioner Trent Jakubowski said.
“We’re seeing that instead of scammers asking for a specific amount of money, they’re requesting victims transfer every last dollar in their bank account."
Taxpayers who receive suspicious phone calls supposedly from the ATO have been reminded of the signs it is a scam.
The ATO will never use aggressive behaviour or threaten taxpayers with deportation, jail or immediate arrest.
It won’t request direct transfers of money to a personal bank account.
It won’t project its number onto a caller ID system.
It won’t suspend a TFN.
NSW Police said people who receive phone calls like this must hang up immediately, never provide personal or banking details and report the scam.
Additionally, the police said to be aware that scammers will attempt to pressure victims into paying money, and will often use detailed scripts to create high-pressure situations to convince their targets to pay money on the spot.
If you have been the victim of a scam, you can report it to local police or to the ACCC online at the ‘SCAMwatch report a scam’ page or by calling 1300 795 995.