The fraudsters not only informed the victims that they had a tax debt that required to be paid, but they also suggested that failure to settle it immediately would attract a jail sentence. The victims were then instructed to travel to Braybrook, a suburb in the city of Maribyrnong, Melbourne to a particular bitcoin ATM and deposit funds. It was not immediately clear why the fraudsters chose the particular bitcoin ATM operated by digital services firm D Konnect since there are 21 cryptocurrency ATMs in the city of Melbourne.
Despite a scam alert issued by the Australian Taxation Office late last month, fraudsters impersonating employees of the tax body have still managed to con victims thousands of dollars.
Per Australian newspaper reports, four victims have so far lost amounts totaling AU$50,000 on the understanding that they were settling a tax debt. According to detectives at Maribyrnong Crime Investigation Unit, all the victims hail from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
According to law enforcement officials, the scammers have been preying on the vulnerable as most of the victims targeted were newly-arrived immigrants.
“It does appear that the scammers are targeting a certain group of people who they can convince that their immigration status is in jeopardy,” Katherine Lehpamer, a detective at Maribyrnong”.
In carrying out the scam, the scammers are banking on the ignorance of victims since the Australian Taxation Office does not, under any circumstances, accept bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for payment of taxes.