The Australian Taxation Office scam call

I actually thought that once I didn’t bother connecting a landline after moving house recently, it would be the end of scam calls. I used to get them all the time – the ones where they’d call up and say you had viruses on your PC – and my recordings of those turned out to be rather popular. But today I had another call, although this one went a bit differently.

First off, I missed a call in the morning from a Sydney landline number which was 02 6064 2043. There was no voicemail left and the call wouldn’t connect when I tried getting back in touch so I dismissed it. Then later this afternoon, they called back. This time I was greeted by a recording with an Aussie accent saying I needed to call that number ASAP due to a taxation issue. So I did, and here’s what happened (note: he gets a bit sweary at times):

Clearly at some stage he’s put two and two together and realised there’s no money coming his way. I get the impression the obnoxious behaviour started before that though and it’s not quite clear if it’s an intimidation or technique or that they’re just arseholes. I mean obviously the latter is true regardless, I just wonder how much that’s a part of the scam.

It’s a shame the call ended before I had a chance to see how they intended to monetise the scam. They may have attempted to extract a smaller portion of the cash as a way of placating the victim or they possibly may have just attempted to extract identity attributes they could then use for other purposes. Either way, nothing good was going to come of it and it’s pure criminal activity.

After the call, I found this number documented on a reverse phone lookup service. The comments go back several months and there are numerous online reports about the scam, including from our own government Scam Watch site back in 2010. Unfortunately, as I’ve found with previous scams, it’s pointless even reporting this to the authorities. They’re well aware of them already and the fact they’re frequently executed out of India and typically involve small amounts of money (although I’m sure it’s still a painful experience for the victims), means very little actually gets done about them (and yes, I have spoken directly with the Federal Police in the past about them). You’d hope the local telcos could at least disconnect the number yet here we are, months on and the one that was already reported above continues to operate (one of the comments on the phone lookup service refers to reporting it to the ATO).

Just another day in an increasingly connected world with cheap VOIP calls.

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Hi, I'm Troy Hunt, I write this blog, create courses for Pluralsight and am a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP who travels the world speaking at events and training technology professionals