Police warn of scams after duo lose more than $100k
MORE than $100,000 has been scammed from two Sunshine Coast women in the past week.
The frauds have prompted renewed warnings from police about scam awareness and double checking information received from strangers.
Sunshine Coast District Criminal Investigation Branch officer-in-charge Daren Edwards said a 58-year-old Maroochydore woman reported to police on Friday last week that she had lost $85,000.
Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said the woman had received a cold call from a person speaking with foreign accent, thought to be Nigerian, claiming the victim had an outstanding tax debt which she needed to pay or a warrant would be issued for her arrest.
She deposited various amounts of cash into bank accounts and through Western Union transfers between August 27 and September 3.
The second case was a Golden Beach woman aged in her late 60s who reported yesterday that she had been scammed out of $17,000.
Again, a man with a foreign accent called about a tax debt, this time threatening to take her to court if it was not paid.
Det Snr Sgt Edwards said it was frustrating for police because there was little they could do to recoup the money.
Money trails often led to foreign bank accounts.
He felt sorry for the victims but called for more vigilance.
"These things wouldn't happen if people just used some common sense," Det Snr Sgt Edwards said.
He said the most recent scams were not isolated events, with officers regularly being called to investigate different kinds of fraud.
They included false tax debt claims, fake bank emails and online match making services.
"They are preying on the gullibility of people not using some common sense."
Det Snr Sgt Edwards urged people not to accept calls for donations and to double check what they were being told by calling the organisations the scammers were purporting to be from.
"If it doesn't sound right, it's probably not."
The Australian Taxation Office has a section on its website dedicated to identifying scams and urges concerned people report scams by calling 132 861.
Protect yourself against phone scams
The Australian Taxation Office is warning the public to be aware of a phone scam that is again circulating where fraudsters are intimidating people into paying a fake tax debt over the phone.
The aggressive scam attempts to force people to pay a fake tax debt over the phone by threatening arrest if they don't comply.
Assistant Commissioner Thomas Ryan said that the of made thousands of outbound calls to taxpayers a week, but would never contact taxpayers about a debt in a threatening manner.
He urged people to protect their personal details.
"We take your privacy seriously," Mr Ryan said.
"We urge you to be alert to these types of scams and never send money or give your financial details to someone you don't know and trust.
"Generally the ATO would send an SMS or letter to remind you that a payment was due.
"If we don't get a response from this we would then call you to discuss payment.
"If you do have a tax debt we encourage you to contact us early on 13 11 42 so we can discuss your circumstances."
If people receive a call from the Australian Taxation Office and are concerned about providing their personal information over the phone, they should ask for the caller's name and phone them back through the office's switchboard on 13 28 69.
If people think they may have fallen victim to a phone scam, contact the office on 13 28 61 (8.00am-6.00pm, Monday to Friday).
For more information and examples of recent scams visit the ATO website or scamwatch.gov.au.