A SOUTH Bunbury woman has described the “horrific” experience of being threatened by an aggressive scammer claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office.
Consumer Protection has reported an escalating number of ATO scams in recent weeks and West Australians are still falling victim, losing more than $100,000 in some cases.
Dianne White spoke to the Bunbury Mail about her shock when she was told that if she did not pay up before a deadline, she would be “carted away to jail by the police.”
“I was told there was a law suit against me and if I didn’t pay before 10.30am that day, the police would be knocking on my door,” Mrs White said.
“The man said I owed more than $8600 and my reputation and employment was at stake.
“There were three conditions – I was not allowed to hang up, I had to pay before the time limit and I was not allowed to tell anyone.”
Mrs White said the caller made the request sound as legitimate as possible by providing details like an employee identification number and a case file number.
She was concerned that other community members may fall victim to the threatening technique scammers had resorted to in order to convince their victims.
The call was in line with recent reports to Consumer Protection, with an 81-year-old man from Perth losing $110,000 to the scam – the largest loss to this type of scam ever reported in WA.
He was also told he would be jailed if it was not paid immediately.
Consumer Protection Comm-issioner Anne Driscoll said she was alarmed at the huge increase in the reported losses to this scam and the aggressive nature of the calls.
“I am concerned that the increasingly threatening nature of the ATO scam calls is intimidating many in our community, including seniors, with the urgent demands forcing victims to respond and lose their money to these heartless and ruthless criminals,” Ms Driscoll said.
“The ATO will never ask for funds in this aggressive manner.
“If in doubt, contact the ATO independently to verify if the call was genuine, but don’t use any contact numbers or email addresses provided by the caller.”
For further information on scams visit www.scamnet.wa.gov.au or enquiries can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1300 30 40 54.