Scammers pretending to be government taxation officials continue to target residents in several countries including the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia.
Typically, the scammers cold call and claim that you owe a substantial sum of money to the country’s tax agency and a warrant has therefore been issued for your arrest. The scammers claim that the only way to avoid this arrest is to send an immediate payment.
These criminals can be very aggressive and are often quite skilled at intimidating people into complying with their instructions.
In some variations of the scam, the criminal caller may claim that the tax department owes you an unexpected refund. The scammers will claim that, to receive your refund, you must pay an upfront ‘processing fee’. Again, the scammers may be quite adept at impersonating tax department staff and can concoct a convincing story to explain why the upfront payment is required.
The scammers usually ask victims to wire the payment via cash transfer system such as Western Union. Currently, this appears to be their preferred payment method. However, in some cases, the scammers may ask victims to pay via credit card, direct bank transfer, or a prepaid card payment system.
Keep in mind that police or tax department staff are never likely to cold call you and demand an immediate payment to avoid arrest. Nor would any legitimate tax department ask you to make an immediate upfront payment to receive a tax refund.
If you receive such a call, just hang up. If you are concerned, call your tax agency to check. But, don’t use a phone number supplied by the caller as this will likely just reconnect you to the scammers. Instead, find a number via the tax agency’s website or a phone directory.
The victims of these scams are often elderly or vulnerable members of the community that can be more easily intimidated by these criminal bullies. It is worth ensuring that family members and friends who you feel may be potentially vulnerable to such scams are made aware so that they will be forewarned should a scammer call them.