Monday, June 17, 2024

Scam, sleep and scam again. - The top four tax scams targeting Australians this tax season

 Deloitte Trio Dodge Inquiry Bullet, For Now

Scam, sleep and scam again. Inside the scam facility behind those annoying text messages

Out in the desert on the outskirts of Dubai sits a secret scam factory capable of swindling tens of thousands of people at a time.

Inside, the scammers smoke, eat and furiously type on their computers as they pretend to be wealthy Eastern European women or models from Spain.

At least some of the millions of scam text messages baiting foreigners, including Australians, come from this place. It's a sophisticated operation, seemingly out of reach of the victims they target.

But last year the syndicate was uncovered following the chance meeting of an Australian divorcee, a private detective, a YouTube scam-baiter and one of the scammers himself, who worked from the inside to take the operation down.

Ken Gamble

The top four tax scams targeting Australians this tax season | Accountants Daily


As we enter tax season, authorities are already warning Australians are to be on high alert for tax scams. Cybercriminals are amping up their scam activity, with a predicted 400% increase of scams during EOFY. 

By Martin Kraemer, KnowBe4   

Alarmingly, this year has seen a rise in impersonsation scams targeting individuals during tax time, a period when people are more likely to engage with financial and government agencies and official communication from the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Scammers exploit this heightened activity by posing as ATO representatives, sending fraudulent emails, texts, or making phone calls to steal personal information and money from hard-working Australians. 

Small and medium businesses are especially at risk because AI-powered scams are becoming more sophisticated and convincing making it harder to identify a scam attempt. This highlights the importance of staying alert this tax season. This article outlines the top four scams to be aware of this financial year (FY23/24) and provide tips on how to avoid falling victim to them.

Impersonation Scams On The Rise 


myGov Email Impersonation Scams

There has been a surge in phishing scams targeting myGov accounts, with scammers cleverly disguising creating fake ATO emails containing links that encourage people to click on a link that directs them to fake myGov sign in pages designed to steal their username and password. This tactic is proving highly effective, with ATO-branded emails being the most commonly reported scam in February 2024. Over the past six months, a staggering 75% of all email scams reported to the ATO involved a fake myGov login link. This highlights just how widespread and sophisticated these phishing attempts have become. The ultimate goal of these scams is to steal your myGov credentials. 

Scammers are also exploiting other digital channels such as SMS messaging to get individuals to click on fake myGov sign in pages designed to steal their username and password. Scammers use different phrases to trick people into opening these links. Some examples are:

  • 'You are due to receive an ATO Direct refund'
  • ‘You have a new message in your myGov inbox – click here to view”
  • 'You need to update your details to allow your Tax return to be processed'
  • 'We need to verify your incoming tax deposit'
  • 'ATO Refund failed due to incorrect BSB/Account number'
  • ‘Your income statement is ready, click on the link to view’

ATO Social Media Impersonation Accounts Scams

This scam is popular on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok etc.). These scams are impersonating both the ATO itself and ATO employees.  The intent is to get you to interact with the pages, send messages, and ask questions with the end goal of tricking you into sharing personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers and bank account details.

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The ATO does have an official presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all of which hold the blue tick of authentication. You can see in the two screenshots below that there is no blue tick for authentication, and the follower counts are very low.