3 April 2020
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I'm from the ATO and I'm coming to arrest you.

This is Part 1 of our story on scamming and the financial and emotional effects it has on innocent Australians. Only the names have been withheld to protect the innocent. 

“I was left a voicemail message from a man claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office,” Ms X said.

“The voicemail stated the Australian Tax Office had found a fraudulent amount in my tax from 2012-2017, a mistake made by either myself or my previous employer. I was told they had sent out a warrant for my arrest. The scary thing is, these people knew my name, date of birth, my home address, and even where I work (which isn’t advertised anywhere public).

“I immediately rang this number back, as I didn’t think scams normally leave a voicemail.

These people continued to tell me I had to pay an amount of $4,000 to erase the warrant. I immediately panicked, as I didn’t have this amount in my immediate bank account, and all reasonable thoughts went out the window.”

Ms X was told to go to an ANZ bank and deposit the money straight into a specified account.

“I thought it sounded very official, as I kept being transferred to people who I thought were solicitors. I also went into absolute panic mode, as at the beginning of the conversation I was told my phone had been tapped and that I couldn’t tell anyone, otherwise I would be arrested straight away.” 

Ms X tried to call the ATO to confirm the call but was placed in a queue, and her anxiety was intensifying.

“I waited on the phone for over 20 minutes and didn’t want to risk if this was true, so I hung up from being in a queue to the ATO and rang the number back. What was truly sickening about this call, is that I was in absolute hysterics, crying and hyperventilating to these people on the phone, thinking I was about to get arrested.

“I was told “it’s fine, darling, just take deep breaths, as long as we’re on the phone to you no-one can harm you”. 

Ms X said that on reflection, the thought that people could still go through with this, while someone was so distressed, disgusts her.

“The scammers “settled” for a much lesser amount after three hours of being in absolute hysterics on the phone to them,” she said.

Miss X learned later that this was indeed a scam and has since spoken to the police and the ATO. While wanting to remain anonymous, she asked that her story be told because she didn’t want this to happen to someone else.

Tomorrow’s story involves an innocent woman who was told that she’d been caught watching X-rated movies and would be publicly exposed if she didn’t pay up! These are true stories. The author asks: what is done to arrest or curtail these scammers and fraudsters?

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