The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has recently issued a warning about a new type of scam claiming fake tax debt on behalf of ATO, and requesting tax payment via Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in a public release updated on March 14.
In the warning, ATO Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson stated that the new kind of scam first appeared in 2017. The ATO imposters claimed to accept new tax payment methods, such as digital currency.
According to Anderson, the scammers managed to get over $50,000 in BTC as a ‘tax payment’ in 2017. Anderson emphasized the fact that it is impossible to get back the cryptocurrency funds lost to scammers, highlighting its generally anonymous nature:
“Scammers are constantly adapting their methods to maximise their chances of picking your pocket. Unfortunately it was inevitable that scammers would target cryptocurrency given its current popularity and anonymity.”
The amount lost in Bitcoin is considerably low to compare with other fake tax debt frauds, however. The ATO reports that overall funds lost in 2017 amounted to about $2.4 mln with over 80,000 reports received by the agency. ATO concluded their warning with tips to the public on how to avoid similar scams.
In other crypto-related scams, imposters have recently taken to using Twitter to steal funds, posing to be famous figures such as billionaire Elon Musk and Litecoin creator Charlie Lee announcing fake giveaways.
On March 2, ATO announced that it is planning to track down those who evade paying taxes on their cryptocurrency transactions this year. In May 2017, the Australian government confirmed that it would treat Bitcoin “just like money,” and that it would no longer be subject to double taxation.