Laurieton resident's warning on Australian Taxation Department scam

A phone call came into my home at approximately 12:15pm on Thursday, February 8. My daughter had just arrived, luckily, and answered the call for me as I have great trouble speaking on the phone since my stroke.

She said it was a recorded message saying : This is the Federal Police acting on behalf of the Australian Taxation Department. We have a warrant for your arrest. Legal proceedings have been taken against you which can include jail time. Call 02 6100 8340. Don’t ignore this.

My daughter immediately rang this number only to be threatened to be included in the prosecution, for overreacting. She was speaking sternly but neither loud or abusive. They hung up on her.

She tried to ring back three more times from my phone, only to have her call rejected.

My daughter then called from her mobile and was able to speak with someone who wanted my full name, date of birth and tax file number. At this stage she still hadn’t ‘clicked’ that it was a scam, and proceeded to give my name.

I heard her repeat my name a few times and then spell my surname, but they hung up on her when she asked them to stop talking over her. Of course she was upset, I could hear it in her voice, but she was still speaking calmly. She tried to call two or three more times from her phone, but her calls were rejected and she couldn’t get through.

Both of us were still quite upset and wanting to get to the bottom of whatever the problem was, so my daughter looked up the number for the ATO in the phone book and called it. 

After identifying herself etc, she gave them the full story and the contact details from the frightening phone call we received. She was advised that it was definitely a scam and the department was trying to locate the culprits.

The staff member on the other end of the phone was very appreciative when we could give them the contact number we were supplied. We were told that this was the first solid lead they had received. They also said it probably came from overseas as the accents were foreign.

The main reason we thought that this could have been a legitimate situation, was because they gave us contact details. Neither of us thought a scam would supply this, let alone answer our return phone calls.

From my daughter : - I was extremely anxious and upset after the original call and thought the government had got the wrong phone number, so was wanting to clear up the error/mistaken identity (which is what I thought it must have been).

I get very angry when ‘scumbags’ like this prey on our elderly with scare campaigns which can very easily lead to medical emergencies. If my mum had have picked up this call, that is exactly what could have happened.

The ATO were great. They took down all of the details I could give them after listening to my whole story.

My mum is fine and we are both letting as many people know about this as possible, so they don’t get tricked into giving away their details. Always check the phone number in the directory and report any suspicions.

Des Tomlin, Laurieton